FIRST VISTA Program Has Much to Crow About

The FIRST VISTA program matches AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) to FIRST teams in underserved communities across the country, including lower socio-economic communities, rural areas, and areas that have little to no support or resources that enable them to access STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives.

Over the last three years, FIRST VISTAs have recruited 6,241 underserved youth to participate in FIRST programs. Additionally, they’ve recruited 2,783 Coaches and Mentors for underserved teams, and have supported nearly 12,500 Coaches and Mentors in total.

In November, two FIRST VISTAs — Diego Lopez and Olivia Walsh — received Spirit of New Hampshire Awards for outstanding contributions to volunteerism throughout the state.

“Being a VISTA has given me so many valuable skills, from better professional communication and networking to public speaking and social media. It’s made me a more confident person, and has inspired me to continue working with non-profits for future careers,” Walsh said. “I think what really struck me about winning the Spirit of New Hampshire award was seeing the other amazing Volunteers who also won awards; hearing their stories and how much of their time they dedicate was inspiring and made me feel proud to be in the same group.”

Lopez and Walsh were honored with the Volunteer Service Award which recognizes individuals who provide Volunteer services that strengthen communities and improve the lives of New Hampshire citizens. Both award winners are currently serving as VISTA leaders for their second terms as FIRST VISTA members.

“Being a Spirit of New Hampshire Award winner is an honor and is important not only for myself, but for the Volunteer community of NH in that the sacrifice made by Volunteers is readily recognized,” Lopez said.

When his service is complete, Lopez plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Latin American history. Walsh would like to find a non-profit group to work or become a site supervisor for other VISTAs.

Did you know?

Today, more than 46 million Americans live in poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents, and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty.

  • VISTA has been on the forefront of ending poverty in America for 50 years.
  • President Kennedy introduced the idea of VISTA to Congress in 1963. 
  • Many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Credit Unions, were expanded by VISTA members.

Learn more about the VISTA program at FIRST.

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