Welcome Pam, Elizabeth and Suzie!

An Introduction to our 2018-19 VISTAs
August 20, 2018
From left to right: Elizabeth Villasenor, Suzie Littlewood, and Pam Rivas

Elizabeth, Suzie, and Pam outside in front of green trees

Headshot of Caroline Banuelos
Caroline Banuelos

We are pleased to welcome three new AmeriCorps VISTA members to the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Pam, Elizabeth and Suzie are committing the next twelve months of their lives to service with AmeriCorps. The VISTAs will be at assigned organization sites four days per week. They will also be available one day per week in our office to assist faculty, staff or students who become involved  with their respective organizations.

The role of the VISTAS includes the following:

  • First, to be the point of contact and organizer between the off-campus site and SSU students, faculty, and staff who have projects at the site, such as community service, service-learning, community-based research, and internships.

  • Second, to strengthen the infrastructure at each site for volunteer management (training, orientation, record-keeping, etc.).

  • Third, a capacity-building project identified at each site

[Related: Goodbye, VISTAs!]

The VISTAs are:

Pam Rivas, Petaluma Health Center, pamrivas.cce@gmail.com, on campus on Thursdays.

Pam wanted to take a year off after graduating  before continuing her education. But she wanted that time to be productive and useful.  Pam decided to apply to AmeriCorps VISTA because she thought it would give her an opportunity to make different types of connections in the community; learn about a health organization; gain real life experience, as well as learn how a nonprofit is run.  Pam also received some good advice recently from a staff member on campus in regard to being a first generation graduate in her family and what that means in terms of what you decide to do in the future. She told Pam it is okay to not always know what you’re doing (after graduation) because as a 1st generation professional, there are a lot of learning curves and challenges that can only be accomplished through experience and hard work.

Petaluma Health Center is a private non-profit organization committed to ensuring access to comprehensive primary health care and disease prevention services to residents of Sonoma County, especially low-income and medically underserved individuals and families with children in our service area.

Elizabeth Villaseñor, City of Santa Rosa, epesqueda@srcity.org, on campus on Mondays.

Elizabeth is also a first generation college graduate. Elizabeth wants to do something meaningful in the community, which is one reason she became a VISTA. The North Bay fires, which personally impacted her, also inspired her to take on this type of work. Elizabeth will be working with both the City of Santa Rosa Office of Community Engagement and Recreation and Parks.  She feels she can really have an impact in both these areas. Elizabeth also sees herself as a lifelong learner wherever this job takes her. The capacity building project she will assist in will include communications on rebuilding and recovery, neighborhood leadership development, and ultimately Resilient Neighborhood organizations.

The City of Santa Rosa with a population of 170,236, strives to be a place where people feel safe to live, work and play.  The City offers a full range of services including police, and fire; public works; water; housing; economic development; recreation and parks, and a bus system.  

Suzie Littlewood, Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Sonoma County- slittlewood@capsonoma.org, on campus on Tuesdays. 

Suzie was also looking for something productive to do after graduation and wanted to take a break from school. The AmeriCorps VISTA program seemed like the perfect opportunity for her. Suzie is excited about being placed at CAP. They have a lot of different programs to offer low income families. Suzie is looking forward to reaching out to students and helping them realize that they are more than just students, they are a part of the larger community and can have an impact by volunteering for an organization like CAP.  

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County has 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.

This is exciting for us here in the CCE because we continue to deepen our collaborations with the City of Santa Rosa, CAP, and Petaluma Health Center. We can also provide much more support for Sonoma State students and employees who are working with these community partners. Pam, Elizabeth and Suzie are available to visit classes, student organizations, housing, etc. If you want to get involved with any of these community partners, please contact the appropriate VISTAs directly. Please join me welcoming them to the CCE and in thanking them for their service!