March 2015 VISTA Project Report

March 13, 2015


filed by Maryalice Crofton

At the start of February, 27 VISTA members were serving at 24 agencies from Machias to Kennebunk. 22 of the VISTAs were marking six months of service and that made it a natural time to couple monitoring site visits with discussions of priorities for the next six months.

Between January 19 and March 13, all 22 monitoring site visits were completed by the VISTA project director (Maryalice Crofton) and VISTA Leaders with the exception of one site visit that Pam Zeutenhorst graciously pitched in to lead. All reports are drafted and over a third have been sent to the sites with a follow up letter. 

Site supervisors have convened twice by eMeeting in this period. The VISTA training has included a webinar on "personal branding" and a full-day, in-person training that reflected on the VISTA role at a site as well as networking among the team members. Their next meeting will be conducted by eMeeting and then they will attend the AmeriCorps member conference on April 1.

An evaluation of the 2011-2014 Maine VISTA project is underway. We are fortunate to have a highly qualified volunteer conducting the interviews. The project is grateful to David Wihry of the Commission for drafting the interview protocol. The evaluation is timed to occur between 6 months and a year after the site completed its 3 year VISTA work plan. It will probe the extent to which goals were accomplished, whether the work has been sustained without VISTA, and more. The results should be ready later this spring or early summer.

Over the course of the past six weeks, 3 VISTAs have wrapped up their service early. In one case, the host site was unable to continue the program due to a change in its internal priorities. By the April Commission meeting both VISTA Leaders will also have completed service. Amy is transferring to Denver, Colorado, at the end of March and Jean will complete her year on April 8. It should be noted this is Jean's fifth term of VISTA service! We are a bit envious of her next home state (Florida) but know that, for someone who lived quite a while in southern California and Arizona, the Maine winters have proven she is the most adaptable person we know!

On March 3, the CNCS field office announced that Goodwill Industries of Northern New England will manage the new VISTA project in Maine. To assist Goodwill's outreach and recruitment from the Maine VISTA Project sites, the VISTA Leaders compiled a binder profiling our sites. The binder included reports from serving VISTAs as well as an overview of the work each site aims to accomplish. This was delivered to Goodwill early in March.

The MCCS response to the CNCS monitoring visit in 2014 was sent to the CNCS field office. The documentation outlined in the letter provided to MCCS Commissioners accompanied the letter and is available to Commissioners at the March meeting. The work related to this was not supported by any VISTA funding but carried out as part of the Commission administration.

For the next 6 months (April-September), the Maine VISTA Project will be managed by Maryalice as the director with assistance from Pam who will remain on staff part-time through the end of June.