Why I Chose to Serve with AmeriCorps VISTA

Dec 7, 2023 | Career

I am committing to a year of service working with the Women's Center through AmeriCorps VISTA. Learn more about why I chose to serve.
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A Journey Towards Impact and Growth

This month, I officially started my service year as the Women’s Economic Empowerment Outreach Coordinator for the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing through AmeriCorps VISTA. For my service year, from December 4, 2023, to December 5, 2024, I will play a crucial role in advancing the organization’s mission, enhancing economic opportunities, and securing grant funding for women (like me) in Greater Lansing.

I was motivated to join AmeriCorps VISTA in my pursuit of meaningful career experiences that foster professional growth. As a professional seeking to make a positive impact, gain valuable experience, and develop essential skills, committing to a term of service aligns with my aspirations. In this post, I will share the motivations and aspirations that fueled my decision to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA and what I hope to gain from this experience.

What is AmeriCorps VISTA?

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty. President John F. Kennedy originated the idea for VISTA, which was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993. Today, over 7,000 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve annually to alleviate poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change. 

As an AmeriCorps member in the VISTA program, members will support an organization to make sustainable changes in areas that affect poverty, including education, public health, climate, access to benefits, and more. Through activities such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment, members will gain professional experience and leadership skills. This opportunity prepares members for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors.

Learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA

Discovering AmeriCorps VISTA

Throughout my high school years, I realized the incredible impact of community service through the hours of volunteer work I did and learning about organizations like City Year and AmeriCorps. Not only could I directly impact the lives of others, but I also had the opportunity to learn new skills that could help me in my career aspirations. Contributing directly to my community while gaining invaluable experience sparked a passion for service that has stayed with me.

As I transitioned into college at Michigan State University, during welcome week festivities, I was introduced to the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which provides various opportunities and benefits to committed members who want to serve society. 

The Benefits of Being an AmeriCorps VISTA Member

My life and career mission is to inspire and educate others by sharing my knowledge and experiences. What excites me the most about AmeriCorps VISTA is the opportunity to combine my skills in marketing and communication with a strong desire to make a positive impact and create meaningful change in the world. 

The AmeriCorps VISTA program offers a range of benefits, including a living allowance, money for college, loan deferment, and professional development opportunities. These benefits not only support my immediate needs but also position me for future success in my career.

AmeriCorps provides the perfect platform for me to work alongside dedicated individuals, collectively striving toward a common goal where I can make a meaningful difference while advancing my career goals.

Discovering the Opportunity

During my recent job search process, I spent a lot of time on Indeed and LinkedIn. While looking on Indeed, I frequently saw several AmeriCorps VISTA positions. Since learning about AmeriCorps, I have been looking for a suitable service position. Although I had seen other opportunities in the past, the timing was never right for me to complete a service year. 

When this position came about, I was in the thick of job searching—20 interviews in 60 days with no clear opportunities had me feeling doubtful about finding a good job within my industry. At that point, I was (and still am) considering changing my role or even the entire career field. 

Of all the things, what I wanted most was a secure and stable job to work while I worked on establishing my personal and business brands. When I saw the Outreach Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA position with the Women’s Center show up on my job search feed, I was immediately interested in applying. The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing’s commitment to providing support services aligns seamlessly with my personal and professional values. Not only was it 6 minutes away from my house, but the Women’s Center was also an organization that had provided me with multiple invaluable services in my past times of need.

While I preferred to obtain a position more related to my career field of Marketing and Design, the job description and nonprofit site caught my attention. Not only would I be able to leverage my current skills, but this role would provide a unique learning experience where I would also have the opportunity to learn new transferrable skills that could help me transition into other positions, all the while making a lasting impact on the community for women just like me. The focus on community outreach, program development, and grant writing resonates deeply with my desire to make a lasting impact.

Anticipated Challenges and Strategies

As I begin my journey as the Women’s Economic Empowerment Outreach Coordinator, I expect to face rewards and challenges in both my role and as a VISTA member. Since I’m just starting, the specific position-related challenges are yet to be revealed. Still, when they undoubtedly arise, I plan to approach them with patience, understanding, and a positive mindset. 

Overall, while the stipend may pose financial challenges, I am determined to supplement my income through part-time and contract work. Moreover, this is an opportunity to dedicate significant time to building and marketing my personal and business brands, helping to steer me toward my ultimate goal of creating a profitable personal brand that positions me as a digital creator and known subject matter expert who’s one of the go-to people for others in my field. To achieve this goal, I’m telling my story, sharing the journey of chasing my dreams, and helping others with what I learn by creating and sharing content through my blogs and social media accounts.

Challenges present opportunities for growth, and I am committed to embracing them with unyielding determination throughout my service year. This is not just a commitment; it’s an investment in my journey of impact, growth, and transformation.

Hopes and Aspirations

Professional development and community involvement are essential aspects of the AmeriCorps experience. Throughout my service year, I will have the opportunity to engage in mutual exchanges with others in a collaborative environment, which will help foster collective growth. I am excited to refine my networking, sales, community outreach, and relationship-building skills and to learn new skills such as grant writing and nonprofit fundraising. As an AmeriCorps member, I am committed to contributing to the community by assisting others in enhancing their communication, personal branding, networking, and marketing skills.

I aspire to build meaningful connections that extend beyond the term through my service. This experience is not just a stepping stone; it’s a foundation for long-term career success. I am eager to learn, collaborate, and contribute to the Women’s Center while simultaneously crafting my personal brand for future professional endeavors.

Final Thoughts…

In serving with AmeriCorps VISTA, I am not just embarking on a one-year commitment; I am investing in a journey of impact, growth, and transformation. Through the challenges, triumphs, and invaluable experiences with the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, I hope to leave a lasting imprint on the community and pave the way for a fulfilling and impactful career. Join me in this endeavor to create positive change and embrace the journey toward a brighter future.

Want to know more about my role?

View my resume entries for both AmeriCorps VISTA and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing.


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Desiree' M. Slaughter

Desiree' M. Slaughter

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