MISSOULA – Eleven volunteers took the oath of service to become AmeriCorps VISTA members through Montana Campus Compact on July 19 in a special ceremony conducted by Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh in Helena.
Over the next year, these MTCC VISTAs will work with college and university campus partners in communities across the state to further antipoverty efforts in the areas of education and veteran/military family support. Their projects include creating local college access networks, developing programming for K-12 success and retention, providing financial literacy for college students and leveraging volunteers and funding for local nonprofits.
“MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA members commit a year of their lives to using higher education resources to fight poverty,” said Brian Christianson, MTCC program manager. “When this works, mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships develop between community organizations and higher education institutions, providing college students with exciting civic engagement opportunities and addressing the most pressing issues facing their communities.”
The new class of MTCC VISTA members, their sites and partner campuses are:
- Anne Genereux, serving with the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation in partnership with Montana State University Billings in Red Lodge;
- Deneen Pancari, serving with the Children’s Museum of Bozeman in partnership with Montana State University in Bozeman;
- Dylan German serving with Montana State University Office of Student Success in Bozeman;
- Esther Yoon, serving with Graduation Matters, Bozeman Public Schools in partnership with Gallatin College in Bozeman;
- Jack Cowden, serving with Helena Public Schools in partnership with Carroll College in Helena;
- Justin Redeen, serving with Montana State University Office of Student Success in Bozeman;
- Krysta Peterson, serving with the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming in partnership with the University of Montana in Missoula;
- Matthew Shipp, serving with the Garfield Literacy Project in partnership with Montana State University Billings in Billings;
- Molly Wilkins, serving with Montana College Access Network in partnership with Flathead Valley Community College in Helena;
- Taylor Moeller, serving with Montana State University Office of Student Success in Bozeman;
- Tyson Krinke, serving with Greater Gallatin United Way in partnership with Montana State University in Bozeman;
- Valerie Watkins, serving with Montana Office of Public Instruction in partnership with Helena College in Helena.
This year’s class also includes two members who re-enrolled for a second year:
- Kelsey Nix, serving with Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming in partnership with Montana State University Billings in Billings;
- Katie Regan, serving with Park County Community Foundation in partnership with Montana State University in Livingston.
MTCC VISTA members come from around Montana and across the country to forge campus/community partnerships in the state. In addition to working with low-income populations, VISTAs take a vow of poverty and are prohibited from holding employment outside their service. At the end of their one-year term, they receive a federal education award that can be used to pay back student loans or further their education.
“The impact VISTA members make on the communities they serve is staggering,” Christianson said. “In the past year, MTCC VISTAs generated $367,166 in cash and in-kind donations for projects addressing poverty problems in Montana. They recruited more than 5,000 volunteers who contributed 33,800 hours of service.”
The Montana Campus Compact is Montana’s largest higher education network and works to improve community life by educating students for civic and social responsibility. The network office is located on the University of Montana campus.
For more information call MTCC VISTA Leader Liz Higgins at 406-243-5177 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.