AmeriCorps VISTA Project

Providing affordable resources to nonprofits in rural communities across Colorado

1More than 5,100 nonprofit organizations operate within rural Colorado. These organizations play an important role in improving quality of life in Colorado’s communities and provide services alleviate poverty, from transitional housing to early childhood education to strengthening local food systems. To build the capacity of rural nonprofits to more effectively address key factors that influence poverty in our communities, CRC is providing a limited number of AmeriCorps VISTA members to our nonprofit partners across the state. The Rural Capacity Building AmeriCorps VISTA project seeks to:

Grow Organizational Capacity: Nonprofits and community groups in rural Colorado grow in organizational capacity and gain additional resources to accomplish their missions.

Provide Professional Development: VISTA members have a positive experience during which they increase in ability and gain valuable insight for future studies and employment.

Alleviate Poverty: Persistent poverty in rural Colorado is reduced.

What is a VISTA?

VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and is a national service program that seeks to fight poverty in America. AmeriCorps VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and assist low-income communities.

AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

What can a VISTA do for my organization?

VISTA members enable an organization to turn dream projects into reality. They mobilize local human, financial, and material resources to expand the capacity of low-income communities to build on their own resources and address the challenges they face. VISTA members around the country are involved with:

  • Project Management and Expansion
  • Fund Development
  • Volunteer Engagement and Management
  • Community Outreach
  • Convening Stakeholders

To learn more about how VISTA members directly benefit and build capacity for organizations across Colorado, download our 2017 Rural VISTA Snapshot.

How do you define rural capacity building?

2016 RPD regional mapCapacity Building is defined as tasks and activities to create, expand or strengthen systems or processes in order to increase an organization’s ability to function effectively and meet its mission. VISTA members do not take part in direct service activities. Instead, they take part in capacity building activities that aim to make an organization self-sustainable.

Our statewide Rural Philanthropy Days program has identified eight rural regions consisting of 52 counties. We are looking for nonprofit organizations in these eight rural regions to host AmeriCorps VISTA members. The VISTA members will bring their capacity building skills to rural Colorado in order to grow organizational capacity and move the community towards alleviating poverty.

Meet Our Rural VISTAs

Jae Dee Wood

Outreach and Education Associate at Advocates for Victims of Assault

Jae Dee was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She attended University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and earner her BA in Psychology. After college she worked as a research assistant on the Violence Prevention Project at DePaul university. She now is serving her VISTA year at Advocates for Victims of Assault in Summit County. She is passionate about serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She will apply to graduate school in Clinical Psychology to study prevention and bystander intervention methods. When she is not working she enjoys exploring the Rockies, reading, and cooking.

Natalie Jones

Micro-Home Program Assistant for CASA

Natalie Jones grew up in Lancaster, PA and went to Hood College in Frederick, Maryland where she earned her BA in Environmental Biology. After college she worked for Girls Scouts of Colorado as a naturalist and as an AmeriCorps State and National volunteer for the American Conservation Experience in Flagstaff, Arizona. Natalie is now serving as a VISTA in Montrose, Colorado for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the 7th Judicial District, where her focus is to help research, organize, and raise funds for a micro-home community for teens emancipating from the foster care system. CASA’s approach of ‘starting at the root of the problem,’ as well as the intrigue of micro-homes, and having worked with teens in the past attracted Natalie to her position. While she’s not working, Natalie enjoys coaching colorguard, watching movies, reading, and being outdoors.

Mara MacDonell

Program Associate at Bright Futures

Mara MacDonell was raised on the north shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, MN, and spent the last four years in southern MN at Carleton College, where she received a degree in geology. Mara’s academic and professional interests have centered on the scientific and socio-economic connections between rural places, education, social justice, creative communication, and outdoor recreation, and she has served in a variety of non-profit settings exploring these themes. She is so excited to spend the year as a program associate at Bright Futures for Early Childhood and Families, helping expand opportunities for child and families in the San Juan region. When not in the office, you can usually find Mara skiing, climbing, canoeing, trail running, painting, or reading.

Hope Mazeika

Early Childhood Systems Building VISTA at Grand Beginnings

Hope is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania where she studied Environmental Science. Since she was 15, Hope has worked with summer camps as a counselor and mentor for younger children. After graduating from Pitt, Hope decided to take her education and experiences to the other side of the country and accepted the opportunity to serve in Grand County, Colorado as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. For the next year she will be working with Grand Beginnings to help rural parents and educators make strong choices regarding their child’s early education. In her spare time Hope enjoys hiking, listening to music, and volunteering with animals.

Tyrell Woodard

Research & Program Associate at La Plata Youth Services

Tyrell is the Research and Program Associate at La Plata Youth Services in Durango, Colorado. He recently moved to Durango from New Haven, Michigan. He received his Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and social work from Oakland University. During his final year of college, Tyrell had the opportunity to work with Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization based out of the Metro Detroit area which focused on reducing crime and uniting the community. Those few months really sparked his desire to work in the nonprofit sector. Something that Tyrell is passionate about is working with youth and giving them the knowledge and tools needed to live happy, healthy lives.

Sara Novicki

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors, Development Associate

Sara Novicki is a native of Wilmington, NC where she studied Social Work at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. During her time at UNCW she volunteered at a variety of non-profits and joined the Rape Crisis Center as a Prevention Education Intern. Her passion for supporting underserved and underrepresented populations led her to later join the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She left the beach for the mountains in January of 2017 and spent a year serving at Mountain Valley School in Saguache, CO. Here she took on the position as their Assistant Geodesic Dome Greenhouse Coordinator which allowed her to write grants and plan community engagement events to support the K-12 STEAM and Garden Initiatives. During her time in Saguache she fell in love with the San Luis Valley (SLV) and made the decision to stay in the area for a bit longer. In February of 2018, she joined San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLVGO) in Alamosa, CO as their Funding Coordinator VISTA. In her new position at SLVGO, Sara will be supporting the growth of outdoor recreation and trails in the SLV through fundraising, resource development, and marketing. Aside from serving, Sara can be found hiking trails with her dog, crafting, cooking, dancing, or spending time on the water.

Nicole Rodriguez

La Puente Home Inc., Community and Resource Development Associate

Nicole Rodriguez is originally from San Antonio Texas. She is a graduate from Texas State University in San Marcos Texas. She Majored in Art and minored in Mass Communication. While in college Nicole was in service organizations and worked at the college radio station. Nicole also went on service trip to Costa Rica and after that she knew she wanted to work for a non-profit. Nicole is excited to work as a VISTA at La Puente Home Inc. and to use her Mass Communication skills she learned in college. When she is not working Nicole looks forward to exploring Colorado, crafting, and taking photos.

Maddie Interdonato

Outreach and Marketing Associate

Maddie is originally from the east coast, finally making her way to the mountains after receiving her B.S. in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University. In the pursuit of a career that is outdoor-oriented, she found Alpine Achievers Initiative, and is now serving her second year with them, this time as a VISTA. This program has such a great impact on children in the San Luis Valley and Maddie can’t wait to help develop this amazing program further.

Amanda Falkner

Community Engagement Coordinator

My name is Amanda Falkner and I am a recent graduate of the University of Vermont. I graduated with a degree in Community and International Development, and a double minor in Food Systems and Nutrition and Food Sciences. I am originally from Rochester, NY, but am serving in Alamosa, CO, working as the Community Engagement Coordinator VISTA for the Rio Grande Farm Park. A few fun facts about me: I love dogs and love the outdoors!

Lexis Reid

Hello, I’m Lexis Serving at Hilltop Recour Center working within a department working with domestic and sexual violence in Grand Junction, Colorado. I recently graduated college with a BA in Family Studies and join AmeriCorps to take some time off and explore before starting to work on my Social Work degree.

Our 2018 VISTA Host Sites

How to Host a VISTA in Your Community

Join CRC for an informational webinar to learn more about the application process, requirements, cost and the timeline to apply! Register for a webinar through CRC’s events calendar using the tag #VISTA.

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Swan, Volunteer Engagement Manager
303.623.1540 X160 or email hidden; JavaScript is required