Program Served: AmeriCorps VISTA - 2013-Present; New Orleans, MS, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans
Hometown: Clifton Park, NY
Alma Mater: Hofstra University
Currently: New Orleans, LA; YRNO - VISTA
Jack Styczynski joined AmeriCorps VISTA 8 years after Hurricane Katrina hit as part of his promise not to forget the rebuilding of New Orleans until the job was done. Styczynski had visited New Orleans for work shortly before the storm and tried to get back into the city in the days afterward, only to find that wasn’t possible. Helping with the relief effort in Gulfport, Mississippi instead, he vowed to come back to New Orleans as soon as he could, and spent most of his vacation time over the next 8 years volunteering with various rebuilding organizations in the city.
During that period, he worked alongside many AmeriCorps members and ultimately decided to leave his career in New York as a news researcher and become a VISTA himself at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, where he is currently serving in his second term as a volunteer coordinator and grant writer.
Having a hand in raising approximately half a million dollars for the organization, Styczynski is proud to have helped teachers buy affordable rehabilitated homes and local youth pursue their education while learning construction skills as YRNO employees.
Styczynski has had a hand in raising $500,000 for the organization, which helps teachers buy affordable rehabilitated homes and supports children in continuing their education while learning construction skills. From Styczynski’s VISTA blog he shared, “Still not halfway through the year and YRNO has already topped our 2014 total for bunkhouse revenue and volunteer donations! And no, that doesn’t even include our record-breaking Super Service Challenge and GiveNOLA Day hauls! Can’t help but feel my tenure here has been a success. Always proud to wear the AmeriCorps ‘A’ over my heart! #gettingthingsdone.”
Styczynski’s best memory is selling a house to teacher Ben Ifshin in October of this past year. “Ben Ifshin teaches biology at one of our partner schools—Sci Academy—and we finished up the paperwork on October 3rd,” said Styczynski. “No matter what I do from this point forward at YRNO, I’ll never play a bigger role in turning a house around than I did with the shotgun at 318 South Salcedo.”
Before he even began his VISTA term, Styczynski helped their Executive Director find the owner of the property and he coordinated every volunteer group that ever worked on it, including his own Tulane VISTA cohort. He helped generate publicity when tools were stolen from the site, prompting many donations, and then he was a witness at the closing. “My smiling face in front of the completed house doesn’t even fully express how happy I am to have been a part of the project,” he said. “On that porch, I greeted many fine folks from across the country, and around the world, who had a hand in getting it done. I’ll never forget it.”