Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. After a great couple of days and into the long holiday weekend, our new VISTA Leader resigned. This is pretty unusual; we have had a 90 percent retention rate of all VISTA members that have served on our program since 2007 and never lost a VISTA Leader. In general, we’ve been pretty lucky.
Our first VISTA Leader, Eric, came to us after a term of service with Greater Homewood Community Corporation. Eric started just as our VISTA program did and he was instrumental in setting up some of the structures that we continue to use, like monthly reports and member meetings. Eric grew with our VISTA program and ended his year with the development of “The Torch,” a knowledge management guide for the next VISTA Leader.
Shelly joined us the following year after she spent a year successfully laying the groundwork for the creation of the Chesapeake Volunteer Center. During Shelly’s term, our program grew to 35 VISTA members and Shelly was a key player in the selection of the new partner organizations. Shelly spent quite a bit of time on the road, visiting members and helping to facilitate trainings. Even so, she continued to support the Chesapeake Volunteer Center, keeping the web site up to date and working with the Adult Basic Education program at Chesapeake College.
In our third year, we were joined by Lauren, who contributed to this blog throughout her experience. After serving a year with Renewing Life Family Center, Lauren took the reins as VISTA Leader. Over the year, Lauren developed a new bi-monthly webinar series, served on a national committee of VISTA Leaders to evaluate the VISTA Campus, and supported the members through visits, phone calls, and press releases. Lauren also made a tremendous impact at her VISTA Leader Host Site, CampFire USA Patuxent Area Council, so much so that she was offered a permanent position with CampFire. Lauren is now working part-time at CampFire to promote service-learning activities while attending school to study dietetics.
Each VISTA Leader has added to the development and ongoing improvement of our program. We now have 16 great VISTA members serving at 14 organizations throughout the state. So, yes, things change and don’t always go as expected. Still, we’ve been fortunate – and it’s still going to be a wonderful year!