VISTA member Sam Kissinger is helping to establish literacy programs at Humboldt Elementary School, including Read Naturally, which helps to build vocabulary, comprehension and reading fluency through repetition, and is also building a “Literature Exploration” program which will analyze literary classics such as Tom Sawyer, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlotte’s Web, emphasizing critical thinking and creativity among the young readers.
The month of September for the Verde Valley/Sedona Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters (YBBBS) was filled with a series of events and activities, and all yielded great turnout and support for the YBBBS office. At the Thunder Valley Rally event on September 19th and 20th, 100 volunteers were recruited through the combined efforts of VISTA member Jacquie Welsh and YBBBS staff, and $20,000 donated to YBBBS from the Cliff Castle Casino. This extra funding will allow for at least 20 extra children to be matched and maintained for one full year.
On September 29th, 2009 the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter (PAWS) held a volunteer training and appreciation session for all of its dedicated volunteers. Since opening in February, PAWS volunteers have contributed more than 4,000 hours of service keeping the shelter running each night of the week. Over 35 volunteers attended the event, which included information about new PAWS programs, crisis intervention procedures, and other FAQ’s. VISTA member Erika Stone developed the training curriculum for all volunteers in topics such as advocacy, diversity, domestic violence, and other issues related to homelessness. PAWS currently has 87 active volunteers who supervise and support shelter guests, serve meals each night, and help with daytime office work.
The 56th home dedication by Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity (PAHH) took place on September 12th, and the family consisted of a couple with three young children. During this event, VISTA member Jasmine Daniel was the photographer capturing all of the joy and excitement through pictures. According the Jasmine, the faces of the family when they finally received the keys were priceless. Seeing how the hard work of building their own house and becoming first time homeowners affected this family helped make Jasmine realize, in her first week as a VISTA with PAHH as the Family Services Coordinator, that this is exactly where she is suppose to be this year.
Over the past month, four homeless veterans in the U.S. Veterans Initiative’s (US Vets) transitional housing program were placed in Yavapai College’s Career Skills Program with the assistance of VISTA member Ben Olsen. Two of the four veterans had not completed high school, and none had taken any college courses. In efforts such as these, and through Ben’s Employment Support program at US Vets, veterans will be learning basic career skills, such as public speaking, computer skills, office etiquette and resume building, encouraging the path to stable employment and self-sufficiency.
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