VISTA Life

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americorps-vista-logoAmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Authorized in 1964 and founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993.  VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 45 years.

Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance.  VISTA members generally do not provide direct services, such as tutoring children or building homes. Instead, they focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. VISTAs develop programs to meet a need, write grants, and recruit and train volunteers.

Visit Americorps.gov to learn more.

View current VISTA opportunities.

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FORMER VISTAs – Back Row: Matt Ladd, Robyn Sedgwick, Christian Cernauskas Front Row: Sheila Donegan, Robin Ressler

For a year of national service, AmeriCorps members get benefits:

  • Modest federal living allowance ($11,352 for the year)
  • VISTAs are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Emergency health benefits
  • have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service.
  • consider this: the year’s allowance + the education award = more income
  • Relocation allowance for those who live more than 50mi away from site.
  • Child services for those applicable

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) is a full-time, national service program for individuals interested in developing lasting solutions to the problems of poverty in the United States.  Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance ($946/month) and health benefits during their service, and have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service. About 6,500 VISTAs are placed each year in more than 1,200 projects in low-income communities around the country

VISTA members generally do not provide direct services, such as tutoring children or building homes. Instead, they focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations, including the development of projects to meet needs, researching and writing grants, and recruiting and training volunteers.

 

AmeriCorps VISTAs at SALT get to:

  • Serve at a local nonprofit committed to rebuilding “vibrant and sustainable communities” after the 2011 flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
  • Get a solid year’s work experience
  • Develop professional and leadership skills
  • A rural adventure, yet close to the opportunities of Albany
  • Work with team of 5+ AmeriCorps VISTAs
  • Work on committees to continue SALT’s mission of compassionate collaboration
  • Be productive and learn skills during your gap year
  • Opportunity to extend your service year
  • Have a voice in decision-making opportunities
  • A new study, “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” found that those who were out of work and got involved with volunteering opportunities increased their likelihood of finding employment by 27 percent.

 

Comm Service logo

Why did you consider AmeriCorps, and why did you choose SALT?

 

I chose to do a year of service because I was hesitant to continue pursuing a degree in a field that was becoming more competitive… it seemed like a good opportunity to give myself a new challenge and experience something unlike anything I’d done before.  I chose SALT because out of the available VISTA positions, this was both the closest to my home and one of the only ones that seemed like I’d be working with people within a community rather than handling so many cases people eventually seemed to become numbers.” – Matt, 2014-2015

As an out of state VISTA, the idea of working in NY was appealing. Also, the idea of helping Hurricane Irene victims sucked me in. – Lindsay, 2013-2014

Unlike most of the 93 other VISTAs at my PSO, I remember when VISTA was started 50 years ago.  I was a teenager.  A terrific idea, national service, in America.  The SALT project designation was an added benefit.  National service in my local community.  I had worked in local non-profits in the 1970s on Long Island, and in California in 1978.  Now I’m back to local.  The Irene/Lee flood in Schoharie County was 2 1/2 years ago, but the scars are still evident, and the opportunities to do something about it are numerous.  – Sheila, 2014-2015

It seems like I have been reading about so many of them in recent years. As an individual, I am distressed at the overwhelming need that is created, and my puny ability to help.  I was living in San Francisco in 2011 when the Schoharie Creek flooded.  This disaster was personal, because Schoharie County is my home. ..  Presently I found myself sleeping at friends’ homes and reporting for duty behind the Schoharie Reformed Church every day for a month or so… Two years later, I needed to move home and I needed a job. I was aware of SALT and how it carried on the work and, perhaps more importantly, the values of that group of church ladies and neighbors who reached out to community members in need. Therefore, I became a VISTA because I wanted to work at SALT. – Robin, 2014-2015

I considered AmeriCorps because I had returned from my Peace Corps Service in 2010 and missed working with a sense of purpose.  I also wanted to help people who had been affected by a natural disaster.  I’m from another area of NY, but it had been hit with the same flooding from Hurricane Irene.  I was still a little hesitant to returned to volunteer service until I had the interview.  I was amazed at how much SALT had accomplished in two years.  The SALT staff seemed so purpose-driven and I left the interview wanting the chance to learn from them. – Rachel, 2013-2014