Nearing the end of her year of service, AmeriCorps*VISTA member, Kerrin Bersani reflects on her experience at Ethos, and the impact she has had on Southwest Boston seniors.
What is an AmeriCorps*VISTA?
AmeriCorps*VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) serve full-time in nonprofit organizations with the broad goal of overcoming poverty. During their year of service, members build capacity within their organization by recruiting and managing volunteers, applying for grants, and implementing systems to keep their work sustainable in the agency.
Why did you decide to work at Ethos?
I began working at a local assisted living home the summer of 2014 and discovered I was passionate about the older adult population. After graduating from college in May, I wanted to find a way to give back to my community, but also continue working with seniors. When I found the Volunteer Coordinator position at Ethos, I knew it would be a great way to follow both interests. Ethos would also be a great opportunity to meet seniors from different backgrounds than those I typically cared for in the assisted living setting. As the number of seniors grows and diversifies, agencies will have to recognize the challenges they face and work to meet their needs.
What are some of your responsibilities as a VISTA at Ethos?
Every day at Ethos is a little different! I recruit and manage volunteer groups, engaging them in projects such as yard work, cardmaking or helping out at social events for seniors. My assignment also includes creating ways to foster relationships with these group volunteers as well as keep current individual volunteers connected to the agency. Currently, I am working on pieces for social media that highlight the various programs Ethos offers to seniors, as well as the volunteers and community partners that support them. I also am involved with outreach efforts for the various programs in the Counseling and Support Services Department. This includes researching community groups that work with our target population to share our programs with.
What have you enjoyed the most in your role?
I loved writing the spotlight pieces because they were opportunities to speak with volunteers as well as the seniors they serve. It’s great to hear how everyone got interested in working with seniors and what they enjoy most about their volunteer role. The spotlights are also a great way for seniors to learn about all of the great programs Ethos can offer them!
What is the most challenging aspect to your role?
The most challenging part has been documentation. We have a lot of groups that engage with Ethos in different ways, so it can be difficult to keep track of all the volunteers, their hours and their roles. We are in an ongoing process of using a new database for this purpose, so there is a lot of learning involved. Keeping track of the groups will help those who take on this role following me.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Although most of this position is completed at an office desk, it is still very rewarding! Every few months my supervisor, Meg Barhite, pulls together reports with numbers on volunteer recruitment and hours they’ve served, as well as specific examples of direct impact my work has had. Since July, I have successfully recruited over 2400 volunteers to serve 6300 hours! These numbers help me visualize just how much my job is helping seniors in Southwest Boston and realize the difference one person can make!