We Need Programs Like the VISTA Program Now More Than Ever
Posted April 21, 2017
By Jennifer Z. Paulsen
You may have read about the THN AmeriCorps VISTA program if you get our newsletter delivered to your inbox. (You can sign up here.) This program has opened up opportunities for communities to build capacity without impacting their budget too heavily. The VISTA program is important for agencies like Texas Homeless Network that have a statewide reach. Since it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, we can place VISTA members in communities to work on statewide initiatives such as implementing the SOAR program, and in the Balance of State Continuum of Care areas VISTA members help with things like Coordinated Entry and coalition building. However, any agency providing homeless services can now request a VISTA member through THN.
The minimum age to serve is 18, but these three members show you don’t have to be a certain age to serve and make a difference. One of them, Loretta Williams, is a THN VISTA Member!
Poverty: Caregiving Complicates Everything
March 30, 2017
Post by: Alexis Oliver Williams, MPA
Adolescence, Autism and Anxiety…oh, my!
I am thankful to serve as a VISTA AmeriCorps member. My year of service enables me to not only help my community but to learn more about my area and how to be a better-informed member of society. In the first few weeks of my year of service, I completed my Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) Blend, which provided a proper introduction into my VISTA AmeriCorps experience. I was particularly impressed with the PSO Blend and its lessons. Moreover, the weekly assignment that was the most pivotal to me was the “13 Lessons about Poverty” by Dr. Stephen Pimpare, author of “A People's History of Poverty in America.”
Happy St. Patrick's Day - oh, and about the budget...
March 17, 2017
Post by Jennifer Paulsen, Director of Development & Communications
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s some trivia for you. What I thought was just a day of parades, Shamrocks, all things green, including the river (yes – you, San Antonio), and pretending to be Irish, is actually an official Christian feast day. According to Wikipedia, “The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.”
However, unless you live in a cave, the news of Trump’s “budget blueprint” or “skinny budget” is unavoidable and makes it difficult to feel celebratory about anything, especially if you work for a homeless service agency. Read the message from NLIHC’s Diane Yentel about the proposed budget. Moreover, if you are here in Texas, you are bracing yourself for the state budget cuts. It’s like being in a nightmare where giant scissors keep chasing you around.
Top 10 Insights from the 2017 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness
By Caitlin Bayer, Balance of State Programs Coordinator
I jokingly refer to the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ (NAEH’s) conferences as “work-Christmas,” mostly because of my excitement level. The new information, the innovative solutions, the networking opportunities! This work is hard, and it’s even harder when you feel like you’re doing it alone. NAEH conferences re-energize me because it reminds me that the solution to homelessness is out there and there are people who are on fire to make it happen. For those of you who were unable to make it, here are my top 10 takeaways from the best and brightest minds I heard from during the conference:
AmeriCorps – The impact on those who have served
By Jason Phillips, LMSW, THN VISTA Program Manager
AmeriCorps is hard work. It is more than groups having fun doing community service projects together. It is more than the good vibe of serving others or working on an issue that you are passionate about. It is more than simply serving your community. It is challenging. It can be isolating when you are the only member at your organization. It can be frustrating when you learn and see how long it takes to change processes or old ways of doing things. It can be disheartening when you see firsthand the unnecessary suffering, oppression, and marginalization that populations experience because of our systems failing them. It is hard work.
However, it can also be, and often is, one of the most fulfilling and impactful experiences a person has. A year of service is often a kick-start to a career and a learning experience that can be much more enriching than anything found in a classroom.