We are thrilled to share the first installment in our blog series to spotlight our AmeriCorps VISTAs and our partner organizations who host our VISTA members during their year of service. Our host sites are the backbone of our VISTA program. Host site supervisors commit to guiding and mentoring members through their service year and are an instrumental asset for our VISTA’s professional development.
Our first spotlight is on NC Afterschool Corps member Elly Thompson and her host site the Duke University Office of Durham and Community Affairs.
Duke’s Office of Durham and Community Affairs (DDAC) forges purposeful partnerships with their neighbors to improve health and well-being in their community. As a VISTA, Elly works closely on two projects: America Reads/America Counts (ARAC) and SALUD (Scholar Academy for Latinxs United for Diversity).
The ARAC program is designed to enhance primary-level reading and math skills of children in Durham while providing Duke University students the opportunity to give back to their community, gain work experience, and earn money. SALUD is a 12-session extended learning curriculum that addresses social determinants of health disparities through a social justice lens, while retaining a focus on health technology, science, and college access.
Chi Vo, Elly’s host site supervisor at DDAC, has been a valued partner of our VISTA program and a long-time champion of national service. Chi served as an AmeriCorps member for two years in 2013-2015. Since then, she has managed full-time and part-time AmeriCorps members, including VISTAs. Chi has also presented to our VISTA cohorts about the importance of mental health, self-care, and community care. We greatly appreciate her leadership!
Elly is currently in her second year as an NC Afterschool Corps member at Duke. Her position is crucial for volunteer and tutor recruitment for the ARAC program. She also conducts data analysis, management, and assessment of the ARAC and SALUD projects. In fact, she has been instrumental in SALUD’s curriculum development and program evaluation. Elly provides extra support for students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and community partners in numerous ways. In her first term, Elly strengthened the volunteer capacity of her projects which resulted in more than 350 youth supported through these programs and nearly 12,000 volunteer hours completed by students and volunteers.
Elly plans on attending graduate school after her second term as a VISTA ends in July 2022.
To learn more about Elly’s host site, follow their Instagram @dukeindurham.