Goodbye, VISTAs! II

August 5, 2019
Elizabeth Villaseñor, Pam Rivas & Suzie Littlewood

2018-2019 VISTAs Elizabeth Villaseñor, Pam Rivas & Suzie Littlewood

White cake with blue letters that read "Thank you Elizabeth, Pam, and Suzie


Pam and Eliot high fiving

Pam Rivas & her supervisor, Eliot Enriquez high five as Merith Weisman, Director of the CCE looks on.

Elizabeth Villaseñor, Pam Rivas & Suzie Littlewood
White cake with blue letters that read "Thank you Elizabeth, Pam, and Suzie
Pam and Eliot high fiving
Headshot of Caroline Banuelos
Caroline Bañuelos

The last twelve months have been filled with opportunities for growth and numerous challenges for our current VISTAs. It’s now time to reflect on our time working together; their time at the sites where they served, and to look toward the future.

We came together recently to celebrate their achievements and it was bittersweet. 

Pam Rivas, served as VISTA for the Petaluma Health Center (PHC)..  She will be moving on to a position with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, as their Executive Assistant.  After working extremely hard and diligently for the Health Center, Pam will also be traveling a little bit as well as preparing for either graduate school or law school. She would eventually like to start her own nonprofit organization. Pam had a couple of interesting observations while working at PHC. She found that she formed close relationships with her peers in the short time she was there (which surprised her). Secondly, she noticed that as she was learning how to maneuver in an office setting, she became more reserved.  Part of learning to function in the workplace is weighing when and how to use your voice without losing yourself in the process. Pam also realized that although she enjoys working independently she also sees the importance of having direction and feedback.

Related: What is the Petaluma Health Center?

At Community Action Partnership (CAP), Suzie Littlewood has been working hard as their VISTA, bringing volunteers to CAP and addressing issues of poverty in the process. Suzie plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Applied Cultural Anthropology. She has been researching Masters programs in an effort to find the right match. Suzie is excited about the prospect of venturing out of California and learning in a different environment. While at CAP, Suzie learned a few things, “I learned that I am an adaptable team player. Thanks to the partnerships  between CAP and SSU I learned the importance of indirect service and creating community partnerships to support an organization’s mission.”

Related: Meet Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County 

Over at  the City of Santa Rosa, VISTA Elizabeth Villaseñor has gone above and beyond to ensure that the residents of Santa Rosa are engaged and able to communicate with the office.  Elizabeth is currently weighing her options as she looks at a couple of employment opportunities. She has decided that she will be traveling to Spain in the fall regardless of what job she accepts, and is really looking forward to this adventure.  As Elizabeth reflects on her time at the City, she is aware of the impact serving as a VISTA has had on herself and the impact it has had on the community. Elizabeth has also learned that she, like many people, has to consider work balance and the danger of putting work before your own needs as she continues on in her career. Pursuing either an MPA or MSW is definitely in her future as well.

Related: How Can Students Get Involved with the City of Santa Rosa?

Merith Weisman, Director for the Center for Community Engagement praised all three of the VISTAs for their work and accomplishments. She especially noted that faculty members had thanked her for work the VISTAs had done in volunteer recruitment and helping them find sites for their students to partner with in their service-learning classes.  “Thank you for doing such a good job of connecting the students to your sites and working closely with the faculty. The maker-space class was particularly successful this past spring due in part to the opportunity to work directly with your individual sites; and creating games and toys that the partners needed and could use in the future.”

Finally, I have found it a joy to work with Pam, Suzie, and Elizabeth. They have demonstrated such a strong work ethic; a profound commitment to the work and the community they have served, as well as a solid desire to do a good job for our partner sites. This past year has left an impression with them that they will carry along wherever their paths take them. Elizabeth, Pam and Suzie have learned what it means to care about their community and to look for ways to improve life for everyone. I have no doubt they continue to serve in different and meaningful ways throughout their lives.