2013-14 VISTA Project Abstracts

American University

Bio: William Foster was born and raised in the DC metropolitan area. In 2010, William received his BA from Delaware State University in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. Now he is currently finish up his masters of public administration at Wilmington University. William first became intrigued with service while working as youth coordinator in the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware. From the dedication and expectancy from the kids brought high interest to continue serving as a leader and an advocate.

Project Description: Assisting with the coordination of the DC Reads K-10th grade youth tutoring program at American University is the primary responsibly of the American University MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. Specific tasks include increasing the capacity of the AU DC Reads program in the areas of community partnership, best practices, program efficiency and impact, leadership and sustainability through the implementation of a large scale assessment of community partners and the impact the DC Reads programs are having on community partners and tutors.

Carroll Community College

Bio: Kim McShane, a NJ native, primarily grew up in Pittsburgh and now resides in Westminster, MD. She graduated in 2009 with an AA in Arts and Sciences from Carroll Community College (CCC). She then transferred to McDaniel College and graduated in 2011 with a BA in Sociology. At CCC and McDaniel, Kim became very passionate about service-learning. She participated in many service projects and trips such as working with Catholic Charities and spending several spring breaks building houses with Habitat for Humanity in West Virginia. This is Kim’s third year as a VISTA at CCC. After completing this term of service, she looks forward to earning her M.S. in School Counseling.

Project Description: Providing grocery assistance to the faculty, staff, and students of Carroll Community College through the Carroll Food Locker Program is the goal of the Carroll Community College MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. In addition, once a member of the Food Locker Program, the faculty, staff, or student will be introduced to all of the programs and services offered by the Human Services Program (HSP) of Carroll County. The MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA will work on developing workshops, policies, procedures, and partnerships as well as partnerships with Robert Moton Elementary School and the Gateway School.

Goucher College

Bio: Liat Melnick is originally from Portland, Oregon. She recently graduated from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland with a double major in Psychology and Religion. While a student at Goucher, Liat was one of the first tutors with the Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP). The mutual learning that occurred while serving as a tutor was a highlight of her college experience. As a Vista she looks forward to continuing her involvement with GPEP, sharing her knowledge and interest in the program, and expanding her understanding of the organization.

Project Description: Bringing resources into the College Programs at two Maryland prisons through the Goucher Prison Education Partnership, the Goucher College MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA provides a volunteer corps for tutoring in math, reading, writing and study skills to support incarcerated students’ work across the curriculum. Working to build, pilot, refine and publicize the systems and infrastructure that are used by the Goucher Prison Education Partnership on an ongoing basis will allow materials to be shared with other campuses in the Maryland-DC Campus Compact network.

Greater Baltimore Urban League

Bio: Ashley Lowe was born in Illinois, graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelors in Science of Criminal Justice Sciences in 2008. She is currently attending Morgan State University as a graduate student pursuing my Masters of Social Work. She would like to own a nonprofit organization working with at-risk youth by providing programs that will deter these youth from criminal behaviors by creating the presence of positive forces in their lives. She enjoys spending time with her daughter and being a role model in her life.

Project Description: The MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA will create training manuals, establish relationships with community partners to enhance the experience of Greater Baltimore Urban League mentors and mentees, facilitate workshops, and evaluate data. The goal is to ensure that all students have access to college and that they successfully complete college within four years.

Bio: Celeste Knight has worked with the Urban League as a Community Engagement member and enjoys collaborating and fundraising with community organizations that benefit all communities.

Project Description: The MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA will develop the capacity of the Greater Baltimore Urban League (GBUL) Baltimore Partnership for College Access and Success to serve as the “backbone support organization” for the cross-sector broad network of public and private institutions in Baltimore interested in college readiness and completion. As backbone support organization, the GBUL Baltimore Partnership oversees capacity-building efforts of the network to achieve collective impact on reducing educational disparities by facilitating continuous communication between network members to build trust and cohesion.

Bio: Jared Boze began volunteering while studying at Indiana University. After graduating in 2012, he began to search for opportunities to write grants and challenge his skillset—and found AmeriCorps VISTA. He currently writes grants and develops a variety of resources for the Greater Baltimore Urban League.

Project Description: Through the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA’s research and writing, Greater Baltimore Urban League’s funding base has been broadened to include several in-process grants and a growing list of prospective funders for our EYES OPEN and Saturday Leadership programs. This will be accomplished primarily through drafting or editing grants and numerous other documents including quarterly reports, presentation handouts, recruitment material, and letters of inquiry and support.

Hood College

Bio: Elaheh Eghbal is a recent graduate of Hood College where she received her degree in Middle Eastern Studies, with a minor in Global Studies. At Hood, Elaheh was highly involved in campus life, including the student government. During a college trip to Borgne, Haiti, she nurtured her lifelong passion for helping others and is looking forward to applying that energy throughout her service. Dedicated to helping others empower themselves, Elaheh plans to help underprivileged communities around the world have better health and education opportunities.

Project Description: Acting as a liaison between Frederick Community Action Agency (FCAA) and Hood College, the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA promotes the agency and its programs while raising the awareness of homelessness to the Hood community through presentations to classes, faculty and student groups. Additionally, the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA establishes structured processes for connecting volunteers with the clients of the FCAA beginning with fall orientation and continuing throughout the year.

Howard Community College

Bio: Katrina Bowers is from Ellicott City, Maryland. She is a graduate from Stevenson University, formerly Villa Julie College and received her degree in Visual Communication Design. She is lifelong Girl Scout, and loves to volunteer her time in the community. A daughter of a Marine, she has moved all over the country from North Carolina to Hawaii and back again to the east coast. Living in Maryland for seventeen years, she has finally developed deep roots within the Baltimore community, which has brought her to Howard Community College. This is her first year as an MDCCC-VISTA and is very excited to continue to help her community.

Project Description: Educating the community about proper dental hygiene practices and creating a Community Center for Dental Hygiene that provides free dental care/cleanings to adults and children in need is the responsibility of the Howard Community College MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. Specifically, duties include working with community partners to address community member needs including: identifying and developing health promotion projects around gaps in oral health knowledge, identifying those with the greatest need for education and dental services, and creating a post-cleaning referral network of certified dentists who agree to provide flexible payment and low cost services to individuals who have more significant dental issues that need to be remedied.

Johns Hopkins University

Bio: Nicole Carbone recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Evolutionary Anthropology and a minor in Community Action and Social Change. During college Nicole was a part of the Michigan Community Scholars program, a living and learning community focused on community service and social justice. She also became involved with a tutoring program in Detroit, Alternative Weekends, and Alternative Spring Break. Through a medical internship in Bamako, Mali, volunteer work at the local children’s hospital, and involvement in a program called Project Healthy Schools, Nicole realized her passion for health disparity work and desire to do health related work in her gap year before going to medical school. She is excited to begin her year with the Johns Hopkins Food As Medicine program.

Project Description: Assisting with the implementation of the sub-program of the existing Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), Food as Medicine, a complimentary daytime service learning program for youth is the primary focus of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. Food as Medicine works within the school day on empowering youth leadership in promoting healthy lifestyles within the student population of Waverly School through the development of workshops, a Career Day, a service-learning capstone, community-based filed outings, an afterschool club, and a monthly newsletter.

Loyola University Maryland

Bio: William Baptist, Jr. is a native of Baltimore City. A graduate of the University of Delaware in 2006 with a BA in International Relations, fostering a sense of global citizenship has long been his passion. He worked at T. Rowe Price as an associate until leaving pursue a career abroad. He spent almost 5 years abroad as an English instructor and student adviser for the Boards of Education in Tatebayashi and Yokohama, Japan. He returned to his old neighborhood in Govans and is eager to serve the community that gave him his roots.

Project Description: Serving as a community organizer and resource developer for the DeWees Recreation Center, a Baltimore City recreation center prevented from closure in fall of 2011 due to community outcry, the Loyola University-DeWees MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA is building a self-sustaining, community-operated Recreation Council. As a result, long-term enhancements between area schools learning outcomes and after school programming at DeWees, as well as sustainable mentoring and tutoring partnerships between Loyola and DeWees, are ensured.

Maryland Institute College of Art

Bio: Mercedes Hightower was born in Baltimore and recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a double major in English and Women Studies and Certificates in LGBT Studies and African-American Studies. She wants to be a social worker working with kids in foster care or have a career in law enforcement. Eventually she wants to move to New Orleans or Denver.

Project Description: Partnering with the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPS) to enhance their citywide arts education program for high school students is the purpose of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA project. Specifically, the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA member is: building relationships between MICA and Baltimore City high schools; creating a curriculum of interdisciplinary art, design education, and civic engagement; and preparing a training program for the college students who facilitate these arts education programs.

Morgan State University

Bio: Robert Fronta is a native of Lansing, MI. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Norfolk State University in 2009. With his mutual interest in community service and communications, he’s had a mixture of experience in both fields for over five years. During this tenure, he has worked with the American Red Cross, Loaves & Fishes and various organizations. He looks forward to serving the community at Morgan State University.

Project Description: Enhancing the financial literacy of students and their families is the primary responsibility of the Morgan State University (MSU) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA through a partnership with PNC Bank. Development and implementation of the financial literacy program for at-risk freshmen and their families participating in the Access Orientation Program is continued by: coordinating a service project for students and their families; recruiting and coordinating peer mentors for the program; and investigating possible sources of funding for scholarships for program completers.

Prince George’s Community College

Bio: Victoria Saunders is from Oxon Hill, MD. She previously graduated from Prince George’s Community College and majored in accounting. This is her second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She is excited for all the possibilities this next service year will bring and is ready to positively impact her community.

Project Description: Developing, expanding, and supporting the free tax preparation sites within Prince George’s County, Maryland is the focus of the Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. This is accomplished by identifying partnerships with community organizations. These organizations host sustained free tax programs at their locations, create an outreach program of student and community volunteers certified through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program of the Internal Revenue Service to staff the free tax preparation sites, and develop procedures and document practices to support and sustain existing free tax preparation sites.

Stevenson University

Bio: Hope Marshall is from Baltimore County Maryland. Right after high school, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served 7 years. Hope then returned to Maryland and later graduated from Towson University with a BS in Sociology/Anthropology. She began her career in Human Services in 2006, specializing in challenging populations. Passionate about empowerment through literacy and true vocation, Hope later attained her Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate from University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and currently volunteers as an ESL tutor at the Esperanza Center in Baltimore. She intends to continue to serve the Baltimore community, and pursue her passion of adult literacy and vocational support.

Project Description: Building a program primarily for women veteran students to increase their undergraduate completion rates, career readiness, financial literacy, and connectedness to their larger community is the responsibility of the Stevenson University MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. The programs created by the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA include a peer-to-peer mentoring network, a series of professional development workshops, and hands-on career education and civic engagement opportunities. This project includes outreach to women veterans in the Baltimore community, in addition to opportunities for women veteran students on other college campuses in the Baltimore area.

Towson University

Bio: Ruth Farfel is a recent graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland with a major in Sociology. Her high school experience with a non-profit called Students Sharing Coalition in Baltimore City bolstered her passion for social justice and equality; they have become themes throughout her extra-curricular and educational experiences. She participated in Habitat for Humanity throughout college in addition to several service clubs that served Chestertown and the greater Maryland area. She is eager start at Towson University as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Project Description: Coordinating and recruiting volunteers for after-school programming and an annual campus visit for Cherry Hill K-12 students are tasks of the Towson University MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA in order to address needs in the areas of education, college readiness, and health. In addition, the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA coordinates the Young Gardeners program for students and community gardening for residents that provide healthier food options and education about ways to improve their well-being.

University of Baltimore

Bio: Mariel Rubin grew up in Frederick, MD and then moved to Ohio to attend Oberlin College, where she graduated with a BA in Latin American History and Gender/Sexuality/Feminist Studies in 2012. While at Oberlin, she became dedicated to youth social justice and volunteered her time with several community based mentoring and tutoring organizations, primarily focusing on foreign language acquisition. For the past 1.5 years, she has lived and worked abroad as an English teacher, but is so excited to move home and become part of the Baltimore City community.

Project Description: Partnering with CUPs (Creating Unlimited Possibilities), a non-profit that employs at-risk youth and serves at-risk communities is the starting point for the University of Baltimore (UB) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. A sustainable program that helps at-risk youth transition out of poverty by facilitating mentoring relationships between the youth and volunteer mentors, offers substantial college readiness resources, provides career readiness programming, and offers financial education workshops is the result of targeted research, interviews, discussions, and meetings with community stakeholders.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Bio: Adebamike “Banke” Adeniji is a recent graduate of University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) with a BA in English, Literature. Passionate about helping her community, especially students, Adebamike has been very involved on campus working as a Residential Assistant (RA), Involvement Peer, and volunteer under the Refugee Youth Project (RYP) through the Shriver Center’s service-learning program. Through her MDCCC-VISTA position, Adebamike hopes to continue helping students reach their highest potential and impact others both in the Baltimore and UMBC community.

Project Description: Meeting the needs of Arbutus Middle School (AMS) through support of the Homework Club and Information Workshops for AMS parents is the purpose of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA project. UMBC students are recruited to participate in sustained service-learning activities with AMS students who have been identified as “at-risk” by AMS faculty and administration. Through this project, the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA establishes partnerships with local businesses and programs to ensure the continuation of the Information Workshops for AMS parents.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Bio: Marica Baxter-Parker was born and raised in Salisbury, MD. She attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where she graduated with a BS in Human Ecology – Child Development. She’s always had a passion for working with children and this position has presented a unique opportunity for her to not only be involved with children but to improve their lives and enhance the quality of care provided to them.

Project Description: Improving the scholastic achievements and civic engagement of (K-12) youth who attend the Garland Hayward Youth Center (GHYC) in Princess Anne, Maryland is the primary responsibility of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. Specific tasks include: coordinating the placement of UMES student volunteers at GHYC for afterschool tutoring/mentoring; facilitating leadership training sessions for student volunteers; leveraging resources for the Center; and developing enrichment programs, K-12 civic engagement/service-learning projects, parent/community workshops and events, as well as and professional development workshops for GHYC staff.

Washington Adventist University

Bio: Kassie May Edwards graduated from the Florida State University in 2010 with a BA in African American Studies. During her undergraduate tenure, she developed a desire to give back to the community by involving herself in student organizations that encouraged mentorship and informal education through museum studies. Her eagerness to help young people became a focus after noticing the lack of a culturally diverse curriculum in public school systems. That led her to being an AmeriCorps Museum Educator at Providence Children’s Museum. She loved the positive effects her diversity curriculum and teacher workshops had on children and educators that she decided to come to WAU and pursue another year as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Project Description: Partnering with the First-Generation Ambassadors Program (FGAP) to support first-generation Washington Adventist University (WAU) students through mentorship, workshops, and building a strong partnership with parents is the priority of the WAU MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA. Selecting WAU student Ambassadors, facilitating workshops for the Ambassadors, preparing a parent newsletter, coordinating service projects, pairing FGAP students with first generation high school students at Takoma Academy, and developing a student organization to sustain the mission, goals, objectives and activities of FGAP are all ways in which the MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA will support the project.

Wesley Theological Seminary

Bio: Robert Stewart is originally from New York City, but moved to New Providence, New Jersey when he was 10. Growing up, he found himself drawn towards history and politics. He graduated from American University in 2012, where he majored in Political Science. 

Project Description: Assisting in the development of the Heal the Sick Initiative is the purpose of the Wesley Theological Seminary MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA project. The Heal the Sick Initiative is a program of community-based healthcare in the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland adapted from Methodist LeBonheur Hospital health network model in Memphis, Tennessee. The MDCCC AmeriCorps VISTA develops, designs, produces, and distributes a resource manual, and performs outreach to congregations and community organizations on behalf of the Heal the Sick Initiative.