Spring into Action: One VISTA's Journey in Community Building and Engagement

Hey friends! I hope you are not too discouraged by the snow fall we've had early this April. We will have a green spring and a warm summer, I can feel it. When you become a VISTA sign up knowing that for at least one year you are placed with your host site. You think "hey that's not a lot of time," and truthfully it isn't very much time. Yet as I pass the six-month mark of my term of service I can't help but look at my orientation in Philadelphia and think how long ago that was. So much has happened in that time! We've started doing Community Conversations in Millerton, I've done annual inspections for the NYS Main Street Grant participants and have worked closely with community volunteers in implementing a Farm Housing Survey. Many lessons have been learned and I have even more to look forward to in the future.

 

Outreach is an art form, something I come to realize every day at work. Whatever approach you take to community outreach, it all depends on what is your message and who are you trying to reach. In northeastern Dutchess we do a majority of this work through various means. We make phone calls, send emails and do fliering, although the best outreach is done in person. When you sit down and take time to listen and understand a community member's vision and passion you begin to make a genuine connection with them. Then you build on this connection by working alongside each other to achieve a common goal. Whether it be more arts related opportunities, or better access to food or how to engage youth in civic duties, you start building long lasting partnerships. Its on this foundation that community work is done and I am excited to move into spring with this approach in mind. 

 

My coworker Allan Co and I attended the Pancake Breakfast at the American Legion Post #178 this Sunday in Millerton.  Let me tell you I had one of the best breakfasts in a long time and what's great about this cause is that it benefits many of the American Legion's programs. Some of these funds are allocated to various youth programs and scholarships, such as 4H and scholarships for higher education. Getting youth engaged is community building and engagement prepares them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

 

And in closing, a look towards the future! I will be getting ready to implement a Community Impact Measurement Survey throughout the Middle Main district for NeighborWorks America. This is quite an undertaking but a task I am excited to sink my teeth into.  Stay well!

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