AmeriCorps VISTA members 'expanding what is possible' for *culture is not optional

THREE RIVERS — Three Rivers-based nonprofit *culture is not optional has been committed to community development work in the area since 2009, when the group purchased the former Huss School property and transformed it into  “a vibrant space for a wide variety of community-building activities.”
The Huss Project and *cino’s annual Future Festival have become staples within the Three Rivers community thanks in no small part to the hard work of volunteers. This year the nonprofit welcomed three full-time, year-round volunteers through the Volunteers in Service to America program.
“VISTA is one of several different AmeriCorps programs and is focused on eradicating poverty. In order to become an AmeriCorps sponsor site, we needed to apply with a concept paper outlining the need for VISTA resources in our community and how VISTAs might help build the capacity of our anti-poverty work,” *cino Executive Director Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma said.
“Once the concept paper was approved, we worked with AmeriCorps state program officers to flesh out our program and connect it more fully with national objectives. Finally, we recruited VISTAs from a national pool of applicants utilizing AmeriCorps’ listing service, other job sites, and our own social media networks. The selection process is very similar to any other job application process and involves a written application followed by an in-person interview. VISTAs receive a living stipend, an education award at the end of their service, and health insurance.”
*cino’s three VISTA members include Ale Crevier, a Calvin University graduate working as *cino’s social media/communications person, Annelie Haberman, a George Fox University graduate who manages Huss’ urban farm among other responsibilities, and Jeff Torano, a University of Michigan graduate who likens his role with *cino to that of a “utility player.”

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