First Afterschool Corps cohort concludes year of service

July 19, 2018

This week we bid farewell to our first cohort of Afterschool Corps VISTA members. These members served full-time, for a full year, to build the capacity of afterschool programs at their placement sites or partner organizations and to strengthen connections between a Campus Compact member institution and the community.

On June 26th, we celebrated our VISTAs and their work at our End of Year Celebration in Durham. The celebration included a visit and tour of the Diaper Bank of North Carolina where we completed a service project wrapping diapers for families in need. After our service project, we continued our celebration at Duke University’s Community Service Center, where VISTAs reflected about their year of service and hopes for the future. Our VISTAs crafted “capstones” that captured their year in a word and a number, and then they gave Capstone Presentations to share an overview of their accomplishments. These presentations were also shared by the members with their placement sites.

As part of their workplan, Afterschool Corps members collaborated with agency staff and student volunteers to pilot a Design for Change project at their sites. A couple of these projects were captured in video and submitted to the Design for Change USA annual competition. Jessie Thuma of High Point Leap worked with a group of Oak Hill Elementary students who designed a project to address disrespect at their school. Check out Leap’s video. Brian Bryant of BUMP: The Triangle, with the help of NCCU Centennial Scholars, worked with local boys to create calls for change through music. Check out BUMP’s video. Both received Honorable Mention!

Throughout the day of celebration, VISTAs expressed how much they learned about themselves and the personal growth they experienced during their year of service. We asked them: what advice would you give to your past self when you were just starting your VISTA year? Some of their reflections:

“Not everything will go according to plan, and it will not necessarily be your fault.”
“Be patient. Other people have their own schedules and tasks.”
“Ask more questions.”

Despite the frustrations many encountered, they drew confidence and learned from their experiences overcoming challenges like being alone in a small office or the first VISTA in a department, transitioning from a student to a staff member, sticking to their VAD and resisting other tasks, and having tough conversations.

Although their service is coming to an end, they have made lasting impact in the community. Together our VISTAs supported programming for over 1700 children, engaged more than 400 volunteers, and generated an estimated $215,000 to support afterschool programs through fundraisers, grants and donations.

We thank the 2017-2018 NC Afterschool Corps for all their hard work and service, and wish them much success in their future endeavors!