Let me introduce myself. I am Daniel Webster (not THE Daniel Webster), and I began my tenure at PANO about three months ago. I serve as their Americorps* VISTA volunteer, and in that role I will help facilitate the direction of projects in the areas of fundraising, volunteer management and marketing.
The purpose of the VISTA program is found here. Another project I assist in administering is InVert. This idea is the brainchild of myself and Erin Hayes, a VISTA working for the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania. This optional volunteer activity is a monthly opportunity designed to serve community needs. Typically, VISTAs daily responsibilities involve indirect service (e.g. recruiting and coordinating volunteers, developing tools for service programs), so this program inverts, or reverses, our traditional roles by getting out into the community and tangibly serving them.
We have visited three different sites since the inception of this program, and many of the VISTAs in the Greater Harrisburg area have joined our efforts. The first project was working with Tashya Lehman-Dalen, a landscape designer, along Derry Street in Allison Hill to enhance the aesthetic quality of the neighborhood by planting grass and native species in front of new housing units.
Our second site location was at the Tri-County OIC Adult learning service where we sorted educational packets for ESL classes. I personally received a tour of their courtyard/community garden. Those types of sites (vistas even) always produce a cultivation hankering, as I used to manage a community garden in college. Just this past week we rang bells for the Salvation Army at the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club off Route 322, and we garnered over $600, while singing carols conducted by our very own CAAP ambassador Erin Hayes.
Erin, I, and the other contributing InVert members are certainly strengthening our relationships in the community, cultivating inter-VISTA relationships, and doing our fair share of manual labor. Our next step is to encourage other VISTAs to replicate this program in their own region. If you are a VISTA reading this blog (I’m not getting my hopes up), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the InVert coordinator email@example.com.
Our next location is set at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg for the MLK Day of Service on January 18th.