As a new social work graduate, Mariah Rivera knew she wanted to be a part of transforming hundreds of lives. When she signed on for a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA stint as YWCA Dayton’s volunteer coordinator, she got what she wanted – by the thousands.
Under Rivera’s detail-oriented eye, YW’s volunteer numbers increased dramatically, jumping 346% in just one year. Of the 1,114 volunteers who served at YW between August 2016 and July 2017, an incredible 91% of them were new to the organization. From greeting guests at special events, to painting walls, to organizing more than a dozen donation storage rooms, volunteers served more than 6,069 hours; their time is collectively valued at nearly $140,000.
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), founded in 1965, is a national service program designed to alleviate poverty by building the capacity of nonprofits, in turn strengthening their ability to serve the community’s most vulnerable populations. As a result, VISTA says, both the person serving as well as the individuals served are impacted: “AmeriCorps VISTA members are building communities while building their careers.”
At YWCA Dayton, Rivera found this especially true. “I’m most proud of the confidence and professional development I’ve developed this past year,” she said. “I’ve learned that my contributions are valuable. I also gained more experience with interpersonal skills, which is extremely valuable for any career, but especially in the social work field. Most importantly, I’ve had more experience being a part of a team and collaborating on ideas. I used to be quieter; now, I feel like I can voice my opinions, professionally.”
In addition to honing leadership skills, VISTA members are eligible for education grants that help defray student loan expenses. During her VISTA term, Rivera completed her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. An official LSW (Licensed Social Worker), she will begin her full-time career at Miami Valley Hospital later this month – and has already added her name to YW’s active volunteer list.
“The most important thing people should know about YWCA Dayton is that every single staff member, in each department, truly has a passion for what they do,” Rivera said. “Every person I met expressed a true commitment to their work and the clients we serve.”
Interested in volunteering with YWCA Dayton? Click HERE for current opportunities and an application.