Welcome Amanda and Gustavo!

August 23, 2016
Merith Weisman
Merith Weisman

I am so excited to welcome Amanda DeFoe '16 and Gustavo Vasquez '16 to the CCE staff. Both Amanda and Gustavo have committed to serve as AmeriCorps VISTAs for a year following their graduations from Sonoma State. Amanda works with Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) and Gustavo with Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Sonoma County four days each week and here on campus on Thursdays. They will provide direct support for any faculty member, staff member or student who gets involved with SAY or CAP.

The VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program, also known as the domestic Peace Corps, was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. [1]

In 2016, Saint Mary's College of California's (SMCA) opened their successful AmeriCorps VISTA project, "SMC Collective Impact Hubs," to other Bay Area universities, including Sonoma State. This program is designed to empower communities and fight poverty by expanding and deepening collaborations with nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area. The VISTA Members each have three main responsibilities.

  • The first is to be the point of contact and organizer between the non-profit and students, faculty, and staff who have projects at the non-profit site, such as community service, service-learning, community-based research, and internships.
  • The second is to strengthen the infrastructure at each non-profit for volunteer management (training, orientation, record-keeping, etc.).
  • The third is a capacity-building project identified at each site. [2]

Community Action Partnership strives to eliminate poverty and empower families through partnerships, advocacy, and High-Impact programs. They have been partnering with low income families and individuals to help them achieve economic and social stability; to build community, and to advocate for social and economic justice since 1967 and has a rich history and strong allies here in Sonoma County.[3]

Vince Harper '89, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, says, "We are delighted to work with SSU and Gustavo in his VISTA service. The VISTA program has a special meaning for us as we are both War on Poverty programs that have a long history of mutual collaboration."

Gustavo agrees, "I am very excited for the upcoming year to have the ability to work with the Center for Community Engagement where I can give back to the Sonoma State community, as well as Sonoma County."

In 1971, Attorney Tadini Bacigalupi, Judge John Moskowitz, Chief Probation Officer William Mulligan, philanthropist Henry Trione, and high school teacher Andy Wallstrum formed Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) to advocate for policy change, and to offer support and diversion programs for youth in Sonoma County. SAY provides support, opportunities and hope to children, youth and families. They are dedicated to creating and supporting a caring community where all children, youth and families grow, thrive and succeed. [4]

Ken Quinto '96, Associate Development Director, says, "It's so exciting to work with my alma mater in this capacity. We welcome Amanda and know she will not only support bringing SAY and SSU closer together, but also collaborate well with other AmeriCorps members serving at SAY."

"I'm very excited about my year of service fighting youth homelessness with Sonoma State and Social Advocates for Youth. Homelessness in Sonoma County is a growing epidemic and I'm happy that I have the opportunity to help fight poverty in my community," says Amanda.

This is exciting for us because we can deepen our collaborations with CAP and SAY. We can also provide much more support for Sonoma State students and employees who are working with these community partners. Gustavo and Amanda are both available to visit classes, student organizations, housing, etc. If you want to get involved with CAP, contact Gustavo. If you want to get involved with SAY, contact Amanda.

1. http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-vista
2. http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/catholic-institute-for-lasallian-social-action...
3. http://www.capsonoma.org/?page_id=4225
4. https://www.saysc.org/about/history/