May 2015 to present: VISTA Leader, Partners For Education, Berea College, Kentucky
I support two-dozen VISTAs leading capacity building and sustainability projects all over impoverished areas in south central and eastern Kentucky.
August 2014-August 2015: AmeriCorps SeniorCorps
In late summer 2014, after a year of frustrating, unsuccessful job searches, I stumbled over a listing that actually piqued my interest. Something called AmeriCorps SeniorCorps.
Of course I had heard of the PeaceCorps. AmeriCorps must be something like it, I thought, and found I was right.
AmeriCorps volunteers help communities fill specific needs and gaps in services like education and alleviating poverty. I also learned that AmeriCorps is NOT just for young adults. SeniorCorps attracts and often hires people over the age of 55. On purpose!
So I went to an informational meeting, and filled out an application. And for the first time in five years there were potential employers eager to hire me. Five of them. Many of these jobs were menial yet necessary — like facilitating meal delivery, manning and organizing food banks, and doing well-checks in independent and assisted living centers. I really wanted a placement that would offer opportunities to use my considerable skill set as a teacher and artist.
At the eleventh hour there was an opening for a project director at a struggling arts organization. Ultimately, I was unable to save them. But the challenges I faced taught me a lot about the non-profit world, including how to be an executive director, work with a board (and teach a board how to work with me). I learned about fundraising and expanded my knowledge and experience with grant writing as well.
As part of that job I designed and implemented meaningful and healing arts experiences to under served audiences, including elders in assisted and independent living settings. That experience helped me successfully write and receive an Art Meets Activism grant from The Kentucky Foundation For Women. The contacts I made in the Henderson County schools helped me secure funding from the Center For Youth Justice and Services to provide art enrichment in after school programs at Henderson County High School and the Henderson County Housing Authority, as well as Central Academy during the 2015-2016 academic year.