Goodbye VISTA, Hello New VISTAs, Welcome Back VISTA

August 31, 2020
Jennifer Anna

Jennifer Anna

Headshot of Caroline Banuelos
Caroline Bañuelos

As we say goodbye to our VISTA Jen Anna, we are excited to say hello to two new VISTAs, Leah Beaumount and Monserrat Salas.  We are also lucky enough to say welcome back to our returning VISTA, Alex Anderson.  

Goodbye Jen Anna

Jen worked with Petaluma Health Center during her time as a VISTA. Jen learned quite a bit about interacting with co-workers while trying to complete many tasks. “What I learned most was how important it is to work as a cohesive team. When that happens you get more accomplished,” stated Jen as she reflected on her time at the Health Center. She also learned a lot about setting boundaries in order to keep her work life and personal life separate. Most of all, she learned the importance of recognizing her own limits in what she can do realistically on any given day. Jen has moved on to a position at LGC Biosearch Technologies. This company makes COVID testing kits among other things. She facilitates communication between the technologists and other testers. While she doesn’t get to use her Spanish as much in this setting, she hopes to volunteer in some capacity where she can do so. Jen found her time as a VISTA beneficial in terms of a learning opportunity, networking, learning how to budget, and getting your foot in the door. “The commitment can seem daunting but one year goes by very quickly and what you learn is really invaluable,” says Jen. We wish her all the best in all her future endeavors. Thank you for your service, Jen!

Welcome VISTAs!

All three VISTAs are working with the The City of Santa Rosa

Leah Beaumont, City of Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership,, available in the CCE on Thursdays.

Leah recently graduated  from SSU with a degree in American Multicultural Studies and concentration in Multicultural Education. She has committed a great deal of time through high school in Akron, Ohio and college at Sonoma State to service. Leah comes to AmeriCorps with  experience volunteering in local homeless shelters, fundraising, organizing and running blood drives, and serving and working in classrooms. She has mentored, tutored, and worked with children that have challenging behaviors and those who are differently abled. These experiences have shown her that using her skills to make a positive difference is an incredibly rewarding way to live. Leah has learned a lot about violence and different ways of life from courses at SSU, as well as in her personal life. Leah says, “I find it valuable to be compassionate and understanding of the lives and needs of others.”  Leah will be serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the City of Santa Rosa’s Violence Prevention Partnership to promote safe and healthy youth, connected to their families, schools, communities and futures.

Monserrat (Monse) Salas, City of Santa Rosa Office of Community Engagement,, available in the CCE on Tuesdays.

Monse recently graduated with a BA in Sociology and Liberal Studies Hutchins.  She is working with the City of Santa Rosa in the Office of Community Engagement. Her primary project is called the “SMC Community Impact Hubs” which aims to deepen relationships and  collaborations with nonprofit community partners and to provide resources for capacity-building. One of Monse’s core areas (under AmeriCorps) primarily focuses on helping to diminish poverty while promoting education and empowering our communities with sustainable solutions. 

“On a macro level, VISTA gives me an opportunity to build a public service portfolio. I’m giving my capacity, knowledge, and skills while in return helping the local community get connected with community needs and volunteer opportunities. My VISTA term is also part of a personal journey - one that I am making during a strategic career transition,” says Monse. 

Monse feels being a VISTA is giving her a grounding in the non-profit sector and also allowing her to work closely with students and the community. In the coming years Monse plans to enroll in a graduate program and she aspires to one day become an executive director at an organization, or to perhaps start her own foundation geared towards mentoring youth of the importance of education while also continuing to give equal access to underrepresented communities. 

Alexandria (Alex) Anderson, Office of Community Engagement,, available in the CCE on Mondays.

We welcome Alex back for a second year of serving as an Americorps VISTA.  Alex is continuing with the City of Santa Rosa as well.  Last year her primary focus was Disaster Preparedness and assisting with the planning and implementation of Neighborhood Fest.  She also assisted in disseminating public information in regard to fires and blackouts. This year her work will be primarily in youth engagement and participating in all the Listening Sessions that the City is holding for youth and Black, Indigenious, People of Color (BIPOC) groups as it relates primarily to law enforcement and racial injustice. After participating in the listening sessions, part of her responsibilities are to summarize each meeting and determine what the next steps will be in responding to community groups. Alex is also assisting with the Community Empowerment Plan; which includes youth, the Chief of Police, and addressing police brutality; exploring defunding the police, and how to address institutional racism in the City. Alex decided to serve a second year partly because the job market is pretty weak but mostly because the opportunity to work on social justice issues really resonated with her. In terms of life after AmeriCorps, Alex is not sure what the future holds since in general, “everything so uncertain,” states Alex. Of course, she thinks about continuing her education and/or moving out of state. There’s a lot to consider but for now Alex is focused on ensuring that people of color are heard during this very crucial moment. “I feel BIPOC are silenced a lot and overlooked. There needs to be more awareness and all BIPOC should be heard,” Alex says.