This week, March 12-16, is AmeriCorps VISTA week. FRN is honored to partner with such an incredible organization working to alleviate poverty in its many forms. To celebrate this week, Sam Yates talked with some of the other VISTAs who work at FRN.
My name is Sam Yates, and I am the Research and Outreach VISTA at FRN. My primary job involves creating an intentional outreach program to expand to more college and university campuses, to supplement the organic growth FRN has experienced up to this point. I also support with planning fundraisers, guiding Chapters in Progress (CHIPs) and Official Chapters in their challenges, and general office operations. I love my job because I work with amazing colleagues every day to support students who fight food waste and feed.
I decided that I wanted to be an AmeriCorps VISTA when I was a sophomore in college. Investing time and energy in my community has always been an important part of my life and serving through AmeriCorps has allowed me to be engaged beyond my undergraduate years. I am very grateful to VISTA for the professional development I have gained through this experience; I have learned about how the nonprofit sector functions, collaborated in an office environment, planned fundraising events, and so much more. Perhaps more important, I have grown personally and deepened my knowledge about food sustainability, the careers that I would be interested in, and what strengths I bring to the table when problem-solving.
There are several other amazing VISTAs at FRN who I have the pleasure of working with every day. We asked them a couple of questions so you can hear why we all love being VISTAs.
What have you gained from this experience?
Sarah Diamond: Being a VISTA has greatly improved my leadership skills and experience. I have managed the creation of the first-ever Student and Alumni Advisory Board, which was created in response to students’ requests to be even more involved with the long-term strategic plan of Food Recovery Network as an organization. I have also had extensive professional development experiences including attending conferences and speaking on panels. This VISTA year has been incredibly beneficial, and I feel so confident about continuing into my professional career with this as my foundation.
Robert Hopp: I have gained valuable knowledge and skills related to working in a professional environment such as new technological programs and workplace communication strategies. This experience will translate well to my next job and as time goes on, my career. I have also gained a network of friends that are passionate about what they do and who enjoy helping people.
Why did you choose to pursue a VISTA year?
SD: I chose to pursue a VISTA year with FRN because I worked with FRN during all four years of undergrad. The mission of this organization is so important to me, and so important to the hundreds of other chapter leaders across the country. I wanted to stay involved with FRN after graduation, and I wanted to help other graduating student leaders and alumni stay involved as well. I accepted a position as the Alumni Programs VISTA so that I could work on these passions and help keep young people involved with FRN’s mission.
RH: I chose to pursue a VISTA year in order to work on food related issues while gaining valuable experience. I knew that FRN and VISTA would give me the opportunity to do that. There is also the knowledge that the work I am doing is helping people in need that motivated me.
What is your favorite part of your job as a VISTA?
SD: My favorite part of my job as a VISTA is getting to work so closely with our students on the ground. We work with more than 230 chapters all over the country, and being able to help them through the process of finding partner agencies, navigating their first few recoveries, and witnessing their passion for this work makes coming in to work every day so exciting. Food Recovery Network National is located right outside of Washington, D.C., where incredible networking opportunities in the fields of food, policy, and environment exist all the time, so my professional development here as a VISTA has been amazing.
My favorite part of my job as a VISTA is watching the progress that this organization makes. Every pound of food that we recover, every chapter that we approve, and every person that shares our story on social media makes me feel proud to work here. And because of VISTA's mission of capacity building, I know that this progress will continue into the future.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a VISTA at FRN, please email firstname.lastname@example.org