Your tax-deductible donation supports Ohio Campus Compact’s VISTA program and their work to promote service-learning in higher education!
I want to tell you about how Ohio Campus Compact is part of my life. Many of you have heard me talk about AmeriCorps, know I work at university, and know I’m into some crazy “social justice” education stuff. Let me explain:
I joined Ohio Campus Compact (OCC) in 2007 to complete a second year of national Americorps service as a VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) and had pretty high expectations. I’d just spent an AmeriCorps year working in the mountain forests of rural Washington state doing community-based youth programming – and thought that my next job would certainly be a letdown. I was amazed to find something totally different but absolutely outstanding in terms of my personal satisfaction, professional development, and community support. But despite the great benefits that the VISTA volunteers derive from the experience, every single volunteer I’ve talked to remained focused on the work they were doing to get college students working in the community. OCC VISTAs work to empower local communities, to better educate college students, and to foster social justice – and instead of doing direct service, they multiply their impact by educating, inspiring, and organizing others to get involved!
While I absolutely loved my AmeriCorps experience in Washington, I found OCC to be a real growth opportunity for me. I learned to balance my love of direct service with the satisfaction of seeing others get involved and building community partnerships beyond what I could do personally. The central organization of OCC was vital to this effort – their conferences, retreats, speakers, and mentoring helped me be successful in my work at the University of Toledo, Kent State University and in those communities. In fact, after my experience with OCC, I started working in higher education again – this time to better educate physicians to care for vulnerable and underserved populations. I’m now working toward my Master’s in higher education administration and continue to benefit from my OCC experience.
I want others to have the same opportunity I did and be able to transform their communities and their lives by joining Ohio Campus Compact. However, national funding cuts have forced OCC to eliminate some parts of the VISTA program I found most valuable. Today’s volunteers don’t receive the same training I did and don’t have the same opportunities to form a supportive community. While realigning priorities in a recession is appropriate, the VISTA program is one of the very few to work directly on reducing poverty, not simply addressing its symptoms. As the hardships our communities face continue to grow, OCC VISTA volunteers provide an essential link to use the resources of colleges and universities for the good of the community.
OCC is working on creative ways to fund trainings and support for its VISTA volunteers, including asking for the financial support of VISTA alumni, friends, family, coworkers, and anyone touched by the incredible work done by this organization. If you’re able to donate $10 or $100, it would help OCC continue doing their same high quality programming and work with VISTAs. I continue to be grateful for the impact OCC has had on my life story and will be grateful for every donation as well.