VISTA Blog: Joanna Ostroot

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VISTA Blog: Joanna Ostroot

On May 26, 2016, Posted by , In Blog,VISTA Blog, With No Comments

Hello everyone — this is Joanna Ostroot, the newest AmeriCorps VISTA at SALT. I started at SALT as the Events Coordinator at the end of February. Growing up just outside of Buffalo, I attended college about an hour away at SUNY Geneseo, and I graduated this past December. The past three months have certainly been a whirlwind of adjusting to a post-college lifestyle, a new location, and working with new people.

Before I heard of SALT, I was aware of the 2011 flood in Schoharie County through a friend at school. My friend, who is from the village of Schoharie, told me about the impact the flood had on the local communities, but also about how wonderful and beautiful Schoharie is. This past January when I learned about SALT, I remembered what I had heard about Schoharie. The Events Coordinator VISTA opportunity seemed to align with my interests in nonprofit work and public service, so after I applied and was offered the position, I took a leap of faith and moved east. On a Saturday in February (the coldest day of the winter I can remember, with sub-zero temperatures) I made the four hour drive across the state.

Although I am a few hours from home, certain aspects of the area remind me of Western New York and where I went to college. The vast farmland, rolling hills, and small towns are reminiscent of Geneseo, which is a rural community as well. I’m also learning to embrace the differences between here and where I’m from — the mountainous and hilly landscapes are absolutely gorgeous, which is a nice change from the relatively level Buffalo area. The terrain here is especially different from the completely flat lowland of the Netherlands, where I spent half of 2015 studying abroad. While I sometimes miss living in my bustling hometown and visiting the waterfront of Lake Erie, I have grown fond of Schoharie County and each community’s assets.

Working at SALT has served as a crash-course introduction to Schoharie County. I have attended a number of local events already, including Maple Weekend, the SUNY Cobleskill Fish and Wildlife Festival, and a poetry slam at the Schoharie Free Library. As I have gotten older I’ve realized how much I enjoy interacting with others at events where we share a common interest or purpose, such as concerts and food festivals. For this reason I feel at home serving as the SALT Events Coordinator. At first it was challenging to get used to contacting many people I didn’t know in order to coordinate planning, but I have tried to embrace the challenges of my new position. The next upcoming event I have been working on is the Bounty of the County farmers and artisans market on July 8. It will be fun to get people together for a festival with food, music, and local vendors.

One of the aspects I appreciate the most about working at SALT is the opportunity to meet kind and interesting individuals in the area. They truly make me feel welcome here. At SALT’s Volunteer Recognition Ceremony in April, I saw community members enjoy each other’s company over dinner, talking and laughing. I’m happy that a main component of my position is bringing people together. So far my time in Schoharie County has affirmed something I have discovered wherever I go — it is the people, above all else, who make one’s experiences worthwhile.

As I enter my first season of warm weather in the area, I look forward to seeing what the rest of my service year brings.

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