Americorps Vista members welcomed
The Farm on St. Mathias welcomes new Americorps Vista members
Jessie Borkenhagen and Kayla DeChaine, residents of Brainerd, were sworn in as members of the Initiative Foundation’s central Minnesota VISTA Summer Associate project on June 12 and will be serving locally with The Farm on St. Mathias for eight weeks. DeChaine and Borkenhagen’s main tasks during their terms of service will be to help the organization complete farmer’s market surveys in Brainerd and Nisswa, build capacity for Farm to School summer programming, and to assist in promotion and utilization of Electronic Benefit Transfer for healthy and wholesome local foods.
Both DeChaine and Borkenhagen bring valuable skills and experience to their service with The Farm on St. Mathias. DeChaine is working towards a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and chemistry through Bemidji State and Borkenhagen is a recent graduate of the Sustainable Food Production program through MState at Fergus Falls.
To enable VISTA service, the Corporation for National and Community Service will provide both Borkenhagen and DeChaine with with a modest living allowance along with health insurance, training and relocation expenses. When Borkenhagen and DeChaine complete their service, they will choose between a cash stipend or an education award of to help pay for further schooling, vocational training or qualified student loans.
For more than 40 years, VISTA — often called the “domestic Peace Corps” — has been helping bring communities and individuals out of poverty. Today, nearly 7,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members serve each year in nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the county.
In central Minnesota, nine VISTA Summer Associates, coordinated by the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, will fight poverty through their support of summer youth programs, community gardens and local foods initiatives. Through its eleven year partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA, Initiative Foundation VISTA members have helped their organizations coordinate over 31,000 volunteers, who have served over 283,000 hours, and raise over $2 million in grants and contributions and another 1.2 million dollars in donated goods and services. Now more than ever, with unemployment, home foreclosures and general economic distress at record highs, Initiative Foundation VISTA members are “fighting poverty with passion” and having a strong impact in central Minnesota communities.