The end of a very hard twelve months has come and it’s time to say goodbye to the VISTAs. We got together to celebrate their accomplishments. The commitment they make to volunteer at a community-based organization is an enormous one and we can’t thank them enough for their hard work and efforts.
At our celebration, each VISTA shared what they learned and where they are headed in the immediate future. Brenda Morgan-Rivas, who was the VISTA at Petaluma Health Center will be moving on the St. Vincent’s as a Direct Childcare Worker for youth ages 14 through 17 years old. At the same time, she is pursuing the California Department of Probation and going through the process of applying. While serving as a VISTA, Brenda felt she learned great leadership skills. She became more comfortable in a professional setting. Brenda also learned that humor is key to being a more effective leader.
Related: Volunteer at Petaluma Health Center
Liliana Sanchez was a VISTA for the City of Santa Rosa Office of Community Engagement. She has already been through an interview process with one of our community partners and hopes to be hired soon. Liliana stated that her experience as a VISTA was amazing. She felt she had a really great supervisor; that she learned a lot about working with students; how to lead and manage them. During the fires, Liliana assisted with translation. It was an emotional time and the entire experience made her aware of how hard cities work to try to make sure all its residents’ needs are met during an emergency. It was comforting to be a part of recovery efforts. Liliana comes away feeling very grateful.
At Community Action Partnership, as a VISTA, Iris Leal-Contreras was given direction about the way she wants to proceed with her life. She realized she can work independently; make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. Iris plans to do some personal things like attending a wedding and move; then she will be doing some traveling. Upon returning from her travels, Iris plans to pursue a Masters in Public Administration at Sonoma State. She has also come to realize that Sonoma County is her home.
Finally, Jesus Rocha, who was a VISTA for Mentor Me, will be starting a new job next week at Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital as a mental health worker. He is nervous but excited about it. Doing something new, he says is sometimes necessary to challenge yourself to do better. Jesus shared that he learned a lot about himself during his time as a VISTA; and that he can work under pressure. He also will be pursuing a Masters in Social Work at San Jose State.
Related: Mentor Me: Changing Lives
At the conclusion of the celebration, the Director of Community Engagement, Merith Weisman congratulated all the VISTAs for successfully completing their commitment. She stated that she had definitely watched them grow and blossom. “Thank you for everything you have done for SSU, the CCE, and our community,” Merith said. She commended them for all their hard work; for jumping into the position and doing what needed to be done when school started; getting through the fires with their organizations, and then going on to complete their year of service.
The VISTAS this year were simply amazing and we are grateful to have worked with them. Now we wish them well as they go out into the community; newly confident and secure about their individual talents and the new skills they have acquired. Thank you, VISTAS!