Love your neighbor.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 9 - August 23, 2019


Hello, All! This week was a tremendous one! We had a new AmeriCorps VISTA, Delaney Ray, join our team and I was able to attend a national AmeriCorps VISTA In-Service Training (If you want a quick recap of what AmeriCorps is please see

For a brief introduction to Delaney, please see this week's vlog: 

The training was an incredible experience, bringing together 198 VISTAs serving all over the country in order to give us more tools to contribute to the communities we were serving. It was 4 jam packed days of discussions, lectures, networking and active training all centered around the 5 main goals of the VISTA program:

  1. Ending Poverty

  2. Empowering Communities

  3. Creating Sustainable Solutions

  4. Building Capacity 

  5. Expanding Economic Opportunities

The training sessions spanned how to intentionally and effectively develop resources and partnerships to how to manage a volunteer base to how to use storytelling in outreach and how to empower the community. These sessions gave me many different viewpoints and ideas to work with, while also enabling me to ask questions of my facilitators and peers.  

During this week, I met people working in organizations serving: veterans, people who are HIV positive, people with disabilities, those with food insecurity, youth in crisis and in vulnerable situations, immigrant and refugee communities, people with opioid addiction, unhoused people, indigenous people and other disadvantaged populations. These people were all using their gifts and talents to expand their organization's ability to serve others, whether it be by creating new curriculum, creating a volunteer database or a volunteer handbook. A VISTA 's goal is to leave the organization more effective than when they started.

It is so incredible to see how large an impact the AmeriCorps program makes every year.  It was also interesting to see that VISTAs come from every walk of life, and all races, ability levels, ages and education backgrounds.

Being in such a positive and engaged group of people was inspiring and energizing, sparking my own ideas on how to contribute more to NeighborLink and my community. But more than just contributing, my goal, and the goal of VISTA, is to empower the community and enable its residents to direct their own future.

NeighborLink is striving to make connections and help facilitate healthy neighborhoods by learning what the neighbors themselves want and need. Only by understanding those we serve and their priorities can we really empower them. 

We are working toward a world where people and neighborhoods have what they need to reach their full potential. And that's why Delaney and I are spending this time in service as VISTAs.