By Kevin Collado, CCNYPA*VISTA Serving at Hobart & William Smith College
A few weeks ago, just after the start of the new year, we held our first regional site visit in Geneva, NY. CCNYPA Program Director, Breanna Datesman, organized the meeting in order to foster communication and provide support for the two VISTAs currently serving in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Kate Regner and myself. Alongside us sat our respective supervisors, Garth Freeman, Sage Gerling, and Katie Flowers. That morning, Breanna’s agenda included communication style activities, the sharing of ongoing project experiences, highlighting our sustainability goals, and a discussion centered around areas of existing overlaps and resource sharing between projects. This became an incredibly useful space in which we talked through our challenges and successes thus far, and it was rewarding to be able to hear the fresh perspectives of individuals who aren’t normally as involved in the projects on a daily basis. This allows one to take a step back from the details of a project in order to consider and analyze the bigger picture of one’s work. I enjoyed learning more about Kate’s project, which is focused primarily on organizing and maintaining an after-school program for children, and I was glad to consider a program that isn’t directly related to food security since that is what I’m typically consumed by on most days.
I particularly enjoyed Breanna’s decision to start off the meeting with the communication style activities. This gave us the opportunity to dive into our personalities and characteristics and how they relate to the way we communicate and make decisions. It was a great way to engage one another, providing us with a foundation for the remainder of the meeting that was grounded in an increased understanding of how we each work best to solve problems both individually and as a unit. It was a wonderful time well-spent, and those of us who were able to stay a little longer got to eat lunch at the beautiful and newly renovated Finger Lakes Welcome Center.
CCNYPA Host Site Visit Reflections: By Katie Sternbergh, CCNYPA*VISTA Serving at Millersville University
The Central PA CCNYPA VISTA Regional Group, along with their host site supervisors, participated in the VISTA Regional Site Visit on Tuesday, January 15th at Millersville University. In addition to providing CCNYPA VISTAS an additional layer of support during their service term, this meeting was also immensely beneficial for supervisors to connect with one another to discuss resources, project strategies, and avenues for future sustainability. Listening to each VISTA’s project developments, project year, and challenges provided me deeper insight to how my Year One project can evolve over time. One common theme that connected each of us during the meeting was that we all had to adapt to unforeseen challenges related to our project by demonstrating immense resiliency and creativity in moving our projects forward. Our areas, project years, partnerships, and project focuses were extremely unique from one another which made our conversations extremely rich--especially in the area of resource sharing. The feedback others shared helped me think about how I can start transitioning my project’s focus from spearheading an initiative with partner buy-in to implementing sustainable solutions for successful student employment outcomes. Lucio, CCNYPA*VISTA Program Consultant, facilitated a discussion and activity on sustainability planning which helped the group support one another in brainstorming how to address future needs related to our respective project areas. Some different sustainability themes that were discussed included: developing new community partnerships, identifying funding opportunities, creative problem solving, and fully utilizing community partners to address project needs. The conversations we had at the Site Visit helped me reflect upon my service year accomplishments, challenges, and areas of opportunity while the experiences my cohort shared provided me different strategies to consider in expanding capacity.