A Word from the Director of AmeriCorps VISTA, Mary Strasser

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By: 
Mary Strasser

The following post was originally published on the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA blog. Mary Strasser is the director of AmeriCorps VISTA.

I am no stranger to the great goals and aspirations of Campus Compact. Years ago when Campus Compact got started, I had the opportunity to work with the leadership as the program was developing. While I was the state director for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) office in Pennsylvania, I worked closely with the Pennsylvania Campus Compact VISTA project, and I was able to watch as the Maryland Campus Compact was launched and grew to become the Maryland-DC Campus Compact.

AmeriCorps VISTA Director Mary Strasser and VISTA members at the Boston PSO in August 2012.

Last summer I was fortunate to attend the Massachusetts Campus Compact Pre-Service Orientation, where I spoke to many VISTA members. I continue to be impressed and inspired by the caliber of young people serving as VISTAs on Campus Compact campuses. You are a talented cadre. Your hard work and dedication underscore the commitment and enthusiasm of so many young people who make our country a better place to live, and underscore how you are able to mobilize resources at colleges and universities around the country to fight poverty.

As you know, anti-poverty focus, capacity-building, community empowerment, sustainable solutions are the hallmarks of AmeriCorps VISTA, a program administered by CNCS. So, thank you for being a part of our nationwide corps of more than 7,000 VISTAs who bring their skills, intellect, and compassion to find solutions to overcoming poverty in communities.

Your efforts as Campus Compact VISTAs are commendable.Since 2006, more than 3,550 of you have supported 35 Campus Compact projects.This year, 435 of you will serve with 25 Campus Compact affiliates at member campuses and community groups. In 2011, you generated nearly $14 million in cash and in-kind resources for your projects, and mobilized more than 195,000 on-campus and off-campus volunteers.

I am proud to be working work with two colleagues here at VISTA headquarters who were Campus Compact VISTA members. Their time with Campus Compact set them “on the path to be a lifelong engaged citizen” and “to helping people live better lives.” There may be a future in national service for you, too.

I would love to hear about what you are doing as an AmeriCorps VISTA Campus Compact member. Please join me in a conversation on the VISTA Campus Forum about what you are doing to end poverty through your campus community.

Again, thank you for what you do every day — helping to bring communities and individuals out of poverty.

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