Welcoming the New VISTAs

Each summer, MCC Refugee Services says Goodbye to one group of AmeriCorps VISTAs and Hello to another. In July we welcomed three new VISTAs to the team: Green Bouzard, Jayne Corrigan, and Jennifer Pins. Three of last year’s VISTAs have moved on to exciting new opportunities, and Naomi Thorson Krueger is staying on at MCC to serve as VISTA Leader.

Naomi Thorson Krueger, Jennifer Pins, Jayne Corrigan, and Green Bouzard

 

So what exactly is a VISTA? VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America. It’s a program of AmeriCorps, which is a national volunteer service program spanning a huge variety of nonprofit fields across the country. VISTAs are primarily “capacity builders” who work behind the scenes to help an organization grow its programs, services, and networks.

Green Bouzard, the Refugee Housing and Opportunities Resource Coordinator graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Sociology/Anthropology and Religion. Green speaks Spanish—she studied abroad in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.  She also spent 6 weeks in Bethlehem in Palestine, volunteering and traveling. After her VISTA year, Green hopes to return to academia and eventually teach at the college level. If you want to donate household goods or recommend a landlord or a property as a housing option for refugee families, contact Green at green.bouzard@mnchurches.org.

Jayne Corrigan, the new Employment Resource Developer, has a degree from Iowa State University in Political Science and International Studies, with a minor in Religious Studies. Jayne studied abroad in Accra, Ghana at the Universityof Ghana, and Meknes, Morocco at Moulay Ismail University. Jayne is proficient in French, and speaks basic Twi & Derija. Jayne hopes to go to graduate school in the future. You can contact Jayne to share job leads for refugees or offer your time and expertise as a professional employment mentor at jayne.corrigan@mnchurches.org.

Jennifer Pins, Outreach Specialist, graduated from Bethel University with a degree in International Business and Reconciliation Studies. Jennifer spent 4 months in South Africa, and has also traveled to Sierra Leone. In the future, Jennifer wants to be involved in international development work, reducing inequalities and providing sustainable solutions for community development. Jennifer is the person to contact for information regarding individual and group volunteer opportunities. You can also ask her about the variety of ways to stay connected to the news and events of MCC Refugee Services by emailing her at jennifer.pins@mnchurches.org.

Finally, the fourth VISTA at MCC Refugee Services is Naomi Thorson Krueger. This is Naomi’s second year as a VISTA. Last year she was the Outreach Specialist. This year, she is serving as the VISTA Leader for the Refugee Employment and Housing Network, which involves coordinating and developing trainings and events for the 8 VISTAs in the network, as well as working on several projects at MCC Refugee Services. You can contact her if you have a training or professional development opportunity you would like to suggest for the VISTAs, or to inquire about the book “This Much I Can Tell You” at Naomi.krueger@mnchurches.org.

So there you have it—the 2011-2012 VISTA team at MCC Refugee Services. Thanks for welcoming them and continuing your own involvement with us as we transition into this new year.

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