Being an AmeriCorps VISTA is different. It’s not your average 9-5. It’s not dropping in and volunteering as needed. AmeriCorps VISTAs, or Volunteers in Service to America, are dedicated people who work to increase capacity within organizations, build community, and eradicate poverty. I am a Goodwill NNE AmeriCorps VISTA at Piscataquis Regional Food Center in Dover-Foxcroft. What does that mean? It means, primarily, that I help “Get Food Moving” in the Piscataquis region. Some days, that looks like sending two hundred emails. Other days, it means playing human foosball at a fundraiser, meeting with local farmers, or delivering food to homebound seniors. Part of the reason that I enjoy being a VISTA is because it’s a very dynamic role.
I grew up in a military family before settling in Brunswick, ME for high school. I moved to the area this past November, just having graduated from college in Florida. During college I studied environmental science and sustainable agriculture; I’ve worked for several organic farms in the midcoast region, but found myself wondering more about the people involved in Maine’s food system. Where is food insecurity seen? What can I do to increase access to fresh produce for Mainers? How can I better understand nutrition needs in rural Maine? These are the questions that lead me to look into AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps has provided me the opportunity to better understand not only poverty, but communities that are experiencing its impact. At the end of my year-long term of service in the fall, I’ll be able to look back on my time at Piscataquis Regional Food Center and know that I’ve made a difference, that I’ve helped people access food, and that I’ve embraced and been embraced by a community that I walked into as a stranger.