RUPCO, NYS Rural Housing Coalition welcome VISTA member

Tara Collins, Monique Tranchina, Colin McKnightRUPCO welcomes AmeriCorps VISTA Member Monique Tranchina to its communications department this week. Volunteers In Service To America, or VISTA, is a 52-week program that focuses on “building capacity in nonprofit organizations to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty.” RUPCO secured its VISTA as part of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition (RHC)’s acceptance of 10 service members to support the work of rural preservation companies statewide.

Pictured here: Tara Collins (RUPCO Communications Director), Monique Tranchina (AmeriCorps VISTA Member), Colin McKnight (Executive Director, NYS Rural Housing Coalition).

VISTA members execute a national mission to “…promote literacy, improve health services, create businesses, increase housing opportunities, and bridge the digital divide.” As measured in 2015, about 13.5 percent of the population was in poverty: roughly 43.1 million people in the United States alone, according to government statistics, and Monique is determined to fight the war on poverty.

“I’m ready to serve those who deserve equal access to housing, and I wholeheartedly believe that even as a volunteer who works behind the scenes of RUPCO, I can effect change,” says Monique Tranchina, VISTA Member. “Through small efforts that ripple out in complex webs of support, intercommunication, and relationships, my service revolves around building a better  community. I hope to convey those messages through my editorial work, storytelling, and social media promotion this year.”

“We’re thrilled to have Monique on the team for the upcoming year. Not only does the VISTA experience offer her the personal opportunity to learn about work at hand in the housing sector and through nonprofit partnerships,” adds Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “Her presence also provides us the opportunity to increase our organizational impact, help more people, and improve our delivery of programs and services here in the Hudson Valley. As Editorial Assistant, Monique will work in RUPCO’s communication department on storytelling, social media channels, and behind-the-scenes support.”

Colin McKnight, Acting Executive Director of NYS RHC, adds in the affirmative that Monique will lend more awareness of the program, increasing the scope of people reached. “The Rural Housing Coalition is thrilled to welcome Monique to our statewide team of VISTA members working to address housing needs for rural New Yorkers. While gaining valuable work experience, these VISTAs will improve the quality of life for residents of our communities.” Founded in 1979, the New York State Rural Housing Coalition supports New York-based nonprofit housing and community development agencies to preserve affordable housing, develop new affordable housing units, and promote community revitalization. RHC further addresses the issue of homelessness or inability to afford housing without financial assistance, and works to secure local individuals or families with homes that suite their needs and income levels. RUPCO is one of 200 member organizations working in partnership with RHC to bring aid to Hudson Valley residents and homeowners.

On a smaller scale, Americorps VISTA members work within the United States to aid those within the nation who are underprivileged. Their sister program, Peace Corps, works more broadly to serve those internationally, and assists foreigners with professional training in their area of need while bridging the economic and social gap between other countries and the United States. While there are over 7,000 volunteers serving with Peace Corps, about 3,000 volunteers serve with the VISTA program this year. However, the impact of smaller organizations that designate smaller areas of assistance is equally as valuable as global outreach.

AmeriCorps VISTA Member Opening

RUPCO searches for full-time, one-year AmeriCorps VISTA MemberMonique Tranchina will serve as RUPCO’s VISTA Member beginning May 15. She will assist with a variety of projects such as gathering the stories of many residents and sharing those perspectives here online.

RUPCO was awarded a one-year VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) member allocation in collaboration with New York State Rural Housing Coalition (RHC). RUPCO is one of 10 housing nonprofits statewide to serve as a subsite host for a valued AmeriCorps VISTA applicant. RUPCO is a member of NYS RHS which is coordinating the VISTA effort among rural housing nonprofits from Albany, Stamford, and Rochester.

“Our VISTA position is for one year and will assist RUPCO’s Communications Department with behind-the-scene capacity-building support,” notes Tara Collins, Director of Communications and Resource Development. “This is a Jack/Jill-of-all-trades position. We will look to our VISTA to help with getting our new data management solution up and running; assisting with event coordination for Celebrate Community and Community Lunch; and providing a wide variety of communications skills sets from social media campaigns to story writing. This position is perfect for the recent graduate or person looking to gain more experience in the field of communications while making an impact on poverty in our community. VISTAs don’t have to know how to do everything, but they will certainly learn a lot about poverty, affordable housing, community wealth building, creative placemaking and communications in the process. ”

Similar to the PeaceCorps, the VISTA experience is designed to place skilled workers with United States-based nonprofits in need of support. AmeriCorps is one of three programs managed by Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCC). The AmeriCorps is a yearlong residential program for 18-24 year olds that focuses on team-based direct service. Nationally, VISTAs tend to be female (81% ), born in 1982 or later (82%), are experienced volunteers (93%), and come from around the country (62% local recruits vs. 38% national).

The RUPCO VISTA member works full time, commits to one year, and must be 18 or older. A VISTA receives a monthly living allowance of $990 per month and qualifies for VISTA health and child care benefits, student loan forgiveness, mileage reimbursement, relocation assistance, personal and sick leave. Interested candidates should sign up through the VISTA website, https://www.vistacampus.gov/how-apply-americorps-vista . The first-round application deadline is February 17, however RUPCO will take resume submissions through March 10 at tcollins@rupco.org. The official VISTA posting for RUPCO can be found online here.