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Words of Wisdom from Vanessa Schaefer

9 Dec

I was reading an interview with Vanessa Schaefer, a Greater Homewood Community Cooperation VISTA serving in Baltimore, MD about her year of service and I was struck by this response:

Every VISTA has a lot of ups and downs during their year. What was the toughest thing you had to deal with, and what/who got you through it?
The toughest thing I had to deal with was that early in my year, I was assaulted while in Washington, DC. Being in the midst of making new friends after having just moved alone across the country and started a new job, this added a whole other level of stress to the situation. What got me through it was making friends and pressing through the red tape to take advantage of the benefits AmeriCorps offers its members. Building a support system and utilizing the few resources you do have as a VISTA cannot be touted enough.
I think Vanessa’s resilience is amazing and I agree, a support system is the most important thing we can have as VISTAs. Support systems help you find new resources in the community and across the country whether you need vet bills or simply a free hug when times are tough.
And this might be one of the best pieces of advice anyone can give to a VISTA:
If you could say one thing to people just starting their year of service, what would it be?
Just go with it. It will probably be one of the strangest years of your life, and possibly one of the most difficult, but it’s definitely worth it and you’ll learn a lot. Keep your sense of humor and just go with it.