September 30, 2016-
As another year drew to a close, it was time to celebrate the great work done by AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers from campuses across Massachusetts.
At a luncheon at Mount Ida, the College and Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC) met to applaud the AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers and the programs they made possible, to acknowledge those who were leaving and to welcome the newest group of VISTAs. MACC is an umbrella organization that oversees a cohort of VISTA volunteers throughout the state who work in partnership with higher education institutions and local education organizations.
President Barry Brown, a MACC Board of Directors member, welcomed the attendees to Mount Ida and underscored the importance of these programs and partnerships. Then, the Keynote speech was delivered by Karley Ausiello, who was MACC’s first VISTA 20 years ago. “Ausiello built the program from scratch and formed the model which has been adopted by almost every other state,” says Director for Community Engagement, Gregg Grenier.
In addition to honoring the VISTAs, special recognition was given to Karen Chisholm, the Co-Director of the Massachusetts Campus Compact VISTA program, who was leaving after 19 years of service. “She has been the driving force behind its growth,” says Grenier. “There are now 25 VISTAs in the Bay State who each year do amazing work.”
The event was a culmination of much hard work over this past year. “We have been so fortunate to have two amazing VISTAs over the past few years who have developed and help build our program with the West Roxbury Urban Science Academy,” says Grenier. “We have formulated a formidable mentoring program that has opened doors to post-secondary education to many students who may have never thought that was a possibility.”
As this new school year begins, Taisha White ‘15, now entering her second and final year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, will focus on introducing the program to 9th and 10th graders. “They need to be introduced to the concepts of planning for a path after high school at an earlier stage in their life. We hope to instill in them the passion that the seniors felt last year when they stood and proclaimed that they had made the decision to go on,” says White. For some it was to a community college, to others it was military or trade school while some were headed to colleges and universities.
“This program has been instrumental in creating sustainable opportunities for Mount Ida students to become involved in the community,” says Grenier. “It is also a phenomenal way to meet the needs and goals of one of our longest-standing community partners – something that we strive to do with all of our partners.”