VISTA News & Resources

 

VISTA of the Quarter

The FIRST® VISTA program is proud to sponsor “VISTA of the Quarter”, a program through which VISTA members, Site Supervisors, or other key adult volunteers in the field that work with VISTA members are able to nominate them as recognition for outstanding service. VISTA members are rewarded for outstanding service and receive a certificate and other recognition items.

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Congratulations to our VISTAs of the Quarter!

Dr. Pilar, Nimia, Heleen, and Kathleen - Puerto Rico

FIRST®  in Puerto Rico is very fortunate to count on the extraordinary support from its highly talented team of AmeriCorps VISTA members. Each VISTA member brings a unique set of expertise and experience which is helping the Puerto Rico partner, Miray Ramy, build more effective and sustainable practices for outreach, growth, and increased corporate and public engagement.  We are thrilled to share just some of the highlights of our Fantastic Four! 

Dr. Pilar has been successfully building relationships with universities, STEM professionals, the Department of Education and the Puerto Rico Science Trust Foundation to rally for support and collaboration among these organizations.  In addition, she is applying her expertise in science to create powerful Project Presentations and City Shaper project resources in English and Spanish for all our teams. She has become a strong resource for our community.  Her work as a Professor in Puerto Rico is allowing us to build relationships with universities, especially in their career service centers where we now have solid VISTA positions posted and promoted by college career centers.  We have received invitations to have VISTA booths on campuses and started a promising dialogue with a local university who may be able to even house office space for our VISTA members.  Dr. Pilar manages numerous other aspects of outreach and support. There is simply not enough space in one article to boast all her strengths. We are humbly grateful for her work. 

Nimia Ramos is providing her passion and legal background to support our Super STEM School campaign. In this campaign, we are recruiting strategic schools in different zones to become dedicated sites where our organization can hold tournaments, events, workshops and the numerous other programs we run. In our first launch, we received the commitment of three schools! In addition, Nimia is working with the Government of Puerto Rico to submit a proposal to "adopt" one of the numerous abandoned/closed public schools which would become a STEM center on the island!  Nimia brings incredible networking skills and was able to help us build support from Johnson and Johnson and the American Engineering Society!   We know there will be much more to add to this list of significant contributions. 

Heleen and Kathleen started in September - new to the island and new to the program, they are full of passion, talent, and energy.  They have taken full charge of grant writing and sponsorship projects among so many other tasks.   

Kathleen comes to us with strong and impressive experience in the non-profit sector. She is passionate about programs that support learning and children and is very skilled in identifying more effective methods for outreach and corporate engagement.  Supported by Nimia, she has taken full charge of revamping our sponsorship campaign with the purpose of engaging more companies to volunteer and fund our tournaments. In her first month of service, she successfully worked with engineers and executives at Becton Dickinson and engaged their support to fund FIRST LEGO League in a public school where the company has a plant. That school now has the FIRST LEGO League program running in the entire 5th grade!  Kathleen has great respect and trust for the FIRST program and its transformative power to inspire kids.  This respect for the program propels her to push forward on so many exciting projects. Currently Kathleen is working on promising and sustainable volunteering engagement opportunities with respected companies. The goal is to establish long term relationships with corporations who can provide volunteers as well as funding.  We are confident she will reach her goals and set up enduring relationships.  Finally, Kathleen’s strong managerial skills is helping our office set up more effective practices in goal setting and internal communications. We have enormous gratitude and appreciation for her work. 

Heleen is yet another VISTA Powerhouse! She is currently working on identifying organizations for the STEM Equity Grant and supporting or creating opportunities to increase female participation in STEM fields. She is committed to making a big mark with gender inequalities in STEM fields.  She has taken the lead in reaching out to partners and Girl Scout organizations in the states to develop best practices for engaging the Caribe Girl Scouts.  Her outreach has proven to be very successful and the director of programs for Caribe Girl Scouts has committed to supporting FIRST LEGO League Jr. for Boomtown Build season and will bring on FIRST LEGO League in the next season.  Heleen’s passion is contagious which is helping make her outreach campaigns quite successful.  In addition, she has taken a lead on organizing our grant writing processes. She meticulously sifted through listings of STEM grants we are eligible for and has established a detailed timeline to help us organize our grant writing schedule. Another extraordinary and very exciting achievement includes working with her Site Supervisor to establish our organization as approved site authorized to grant the President’s Service Award to its volunteers!  An incredible initiative we know will increase and strengthen our volunteering outreach.    

To conclude, we are proud to add this impressive data: in just a short period with our VISTA members on board, our team growth for FIRST LEGO League has gone up by almost 30%!  We are still a small region, but with this powerhouse team, we know that is going to change FAST!  The greatest part of our Fantastic Four is the synergy and respectful collaboration that happens daily in our office.  While one may take the lead on an initiative or campaign – everyone supports with enthusiasm, energy, and optimism.  There is extraordinary talent, professionalism, and team work in our office  

 


Press Releases

October 26, 2017 - FIRST Sparks Passion for Volunteerism

March 10, 2017 - From Rural Towns to Robotics: Coming Full Circle with AmeriCorps VISTA

March 2017 FIRST Newsletter - FIRST Alumni Take On a New Challenge: FIRST VISTAs

Winter 2016 FIRST Newsletter - FIRST VISTA Program Has Much to Crow About

December 6, 2016 - FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA Program Inspires Underserved Youth

 

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