Community Action seeks volunteers for program

VISTA members receive weekly stipend and more

By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]

The Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. (HCCAO) is seeking two local volunteers, who will each receive a stipend, for a year-long commitment to be a part of the implementation of the Rural IMPACT pilot program.

As previously reported, HCCAO was one of 10 organizations across the nation chosen last fall to participate in the pilot program. The program “is to assist communities in adopting a two-generation approach to addressing the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents, with the goal of increasing parents’ employment and education and improving the health and wellbeing of their children and families.”

The volunteers would be VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) members, through AmeriCorps. The VISTA program was introduced by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and made a national service program in 1965. AmeriCorps incorporated the program into its network of programs in the early 1990s. AmeriCorps was founded in 1994 and since then through its members has “contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve,” according to the Corporation for National and Community Service website.

Christi Hauke, emergency services director with HCCAO, said Community Action’s needs are for a yearlong commitment from two VISTA members who would help coordinate, and to an extent oversee, the Rural IMPACT implementation.

While a VISTA member is a volunteer, those participating receive a stipend, paid biweekly. And, Hauke said, at the end of the year of commitment, the volunteer is eligible for either a year-end cash stipend or an educational benefit to put toward eligible college expenses.

She said the primary role for the volunteers for Rural IMPACT is “capacity building, as it relates directly” to the pilot program, which Hauke said is building “basically a culture of meeting the family where they are at.”

According to the AmeriCorps website, “AmeriCorps VISTA is open to all U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens age 18 and older. Members and summer associates receive a modest living allowance. Members who serve for a year also receive limited health benefit options, childcare, if needed, and other benefits. After successful completion of a term of service, members can choose to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend.”

Those interested should contact HCCAO at 937-393-3458 first to begin the process to apply for a VISTA position for Rural IMPACT. Ask for Brenda Woods. The last day applications will be taken is March 10, and the organization must have the volunteers in place by April.

Hauke said that while HCCAO is seeking two individuals for a full-time, year-long commitment, the agency uses VISTA members periodically for other programs.

“It’s really a great opportunity,” Hauke said, for a person who is interested in the experiences and the exposure to nonprofits. She said being a VISTA member is also a great resume builder.

Hauke said on Monday that the program gives volunteers “an opportunity to experience … the nonprofit world … and provides a holistic look of a lot of different pieces of managing a program.”

For information on becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA member, go to and click on AmeriCorps VISTA in the programs drop-down menu. Information on other local volunteering opportunities can also be found on the website.

President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 told the first 20 VISTA volunteers, according to the VISTA history on, “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.
VISTA members receive weekly stipend and more

By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]

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