AmeriCorps VISTA: “The Domestic Peace Corps”By Kate | Permalink | 4 comments | April 13th, 2007 | Trackback
If you’re looking for a longer term volunteer opportunity that may involve relocating, but aren’t ready for the Peace Corps, have a look at AmeriCorps VISTA program. Developed in 1964, soon after the Peace Corps, VISTA sends volunteers – who receive a monthly stipend of around $600-800 – to communities throughout the US as part of a strategy to alleviate poverty.
There are currently over 4000 volunteers and more than 100,000 former volunteers. A college degree is not always required, though a degree or specific experience might be required for some positions. The benefits include training, the monthly stipend, and a grant of over $4700 to be used either towards future schooling or to pay off educational loans (which can be deferred while serving as a VISTA volunteer). The other obvious benefit is the chance to utilize your skills to make an impact in a community.
Readers with a healthy dose of skepticism might ask – what can an 18-year old or even a recent college graduate do to alleviate poverty in a community? The Friends of VISTA site includes this:
“VISTA is about finding long-term solutions to the problems of poverty by increasing the capability of low-income people to improve the conditions of their lives. This focus on empowerment and poverty is VISTA’s unique niche in the service field…the focus of VISTA Volunteer activity is not to provide direct service such as one-one tutoring or counseling. Rather, VISTAs are community organizers. VISTA Volunteers try to engage all elements of the community, enabling the community to solve its own problems. Examples of activities include recruiting and training community volunteers, creative fundraising and grantwriting, public awareness work, creating resource centers, or assisting a sponsor to develop a new program. A VISTA project is considered successful when the work continues after VISTA Volunteers have left.”
For more information – and other similar opportunities - also check out the main AmeriCorps page.
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