National Service Agency CEO: VISTAs Needed Now More Than Ever

May 13, 2010

Congressional Leaders Join VISTAs to Honor Program's 45th Anniversary

Washington, DC—More than 200 AmeriCorps VISTA members, alumni and supporters joined Congressional leaders and Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, at a Capitol Hill reception to laud VISTA's transformative impact on our nation's most vulnerable communities and those who serve.

Corvington, head of the federal agency that administers the program, said, “Today, as we come out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we need VISTA more than ever. With its proven ability to marshal resources, mobilize volunteers, and pioneer effective solutions, VISTA plays a vital role in today's national service movement.”

Two prominent VISTA alumni, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (WV) and U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (WI), credited the program with bolstering their passion for service and propelling their public service careers. Rockefeller commented, “Everything I have done in my career in public office has been grounded in my VISTA experience in Emmons, and in those kids and families who taught me so much about life.” Congresswoman Moore, who started a credit union in Milwaukee during her VISTA service, is now a member of House Committee on Financial Services, where she continues “fighting poverty with passion.”

Whether they are in the field or served decades ago, in rural communities or inner-city neighborhoods, there is one thing that VISTAs agree on – the program changed their lives.

Ø Federico Santi, who served in South Florida in 1969, said that his VISTA experience helped him develop “empathy for people who don't have the same advantages that I did.” Santi's experience is captured in a photo exhibit in the Russell SOB Rotunda, VISTA Redux: 1969, until May 14.

Ø Jason Scott was putting his degree in criminal justice to use after college, working in a juvenile justice setting, when a friend suggested he join VISTA. “It led me to a path of service,” said Scott, who has worked in community organizing and development since serving in 1999 and 2000.

Today VISTA members continue to fight the root causes of poverty and help build the capacity of communities to entrenched local problems. Across the country, VISTAs are helping to create green jobs, providing job training for the unemployed, and preventing foreclosures. In FY 2009, AmeriCorps VISTA members served in nearly 1,000 anti-poverty programs, raised over $183 million in support of local initiatives, and helped place more than 5,400 people in jobs through Recovery Act projects. Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps VISTA.

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