Browse through VISTA biographies to learn more about our current members and our work in the New Orleans community. Also, remember to leave any comments, questions, or feedback you may have. We would love to hear from you and will be happy to share advice and insights!
Noel ChaCha, APEX Youth Center
Planet Earth, Milky Way
Favorite Service Experience: My favorite service memory was organizing a prom for high school students with developmental disabilities – then getting my groove on!
Fun Fact: My birthday is the reason people celebrate New Years!
Favorite Service Experience: Seeing students I tutored perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the end of their school year.
Fun Fact: I share a birthday with George Washington, Dr. J, and the Miracle on Ice.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Favorite Service Experience: Attending monthly York Road Partnerships meetings in Baltimore
Fun Fact: Jon shares a birthday with Notorious BIG. Rest in Peace, Biggie.
Favorite Service Experience: Volunteering at the National World War II Museum!
Fun Fact: I somehow made it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 7th grade.
Jean Hsu, Homer A. Plessy School
Favorite Service Experience: Working for the Beijing Olympics 2008.
Fun Fact: I became bilingual through necessity on a solo trip to Taiwan when I was 17.
New Orleans, LA
Favorite Service Experience: For the past year, I worked with the Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools’ Architecture Club, helping a group of middle schoolers design their “School of the Future” for a national competition. We won 2nd place in the regionals. Tons of fun and inspirational.
Fun Fact: I camped in front of City Hall for two weeks and then some during Occupy NOLA last Fall. Regardless of opinions or results, it was a learning experience.
Novi, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit)
Favorite Service Experience: Reading with the elementary schooler of Banneker Elementary. These kids were truly inspiring in the face of multiple adversities!
Fun Fact: My grandpa’s name is King Kong!
Favorite Service Experience: Helping out in an SAT Academy in my hometown changed my life by further opening my eyes to the vast and unacceptable inequalities in the Rio Grande Valley/South Texas.
Fun Fact: ”Benshorts” (Hector De La Hoya), one of Mexico’s most famous YouTube personalities, is my first-cousin.
FuZhou, China (lived mostly in Mandeville, LA, though)
Favorite Service Experience: Getting competitive and lovable high school kids to finish cleaning an area that was to take 2 hours in less than 30 minutes.
Fun Fact: I was raised a farmer boy by relatively “country” parents in China. I once had pet chickens, but they were eaten by a stray cat.
Manhasset, New York
Favorite Service Experience: Interning at New York Cares – we coordinated many projects throughout the city, such as revitalizing parks, painting schools, helping people with their résumés at an unemployment center, helping out animal shelters, and more. The direct service opportunities that New York Cares offers their volunteers are wonderful and I’m glad I got to be a part of making that a possibility.
Fun Fact: I invented teleporting.
Favorite Service Experience: Helping wards of the state in Taiwan… and unicycling with them
Fun Fact: I have been playing the violin for ten, going on eleven years!
Favorite Service Experience: Being a service-learner at Tulane.
Fun Fact: I HATE CHEESE, but my favorite food is grilled cheese.
Favorite Service Experience: My most enjoyable moment was with the Grow Dat students and watching them overcome their fear of canoeing.
Fun Fact: I am a 1st generation college graduate from my family but after me those in my family have either graduated or are attending college.
Ben Brubaker, CPS AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
Term of Service: October 2011-October 2012
New Orleans, LA via Philadelphia, PA
Favorite Service Experience:
Working with local hip-hop artists and Tulane students to help organize the annual Hip-Hop for Hope benefit concert that raises money for New Orleans educational programs. Highlights included: watching Lupe Fiasco explain his personal hip-hop philosophy at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center and seeing Mannie Fresh perform all of his classic hits at Tipitina’s.
I love surfing, it’s a life passion. Yet, New Orleans doesn’t have a surfing scene.
George Doonan Martin, Benjamin Bannker Elementary
Term of Service: August 2011-August 2012
Hometown: La Grange, IL
Favorite Service Experience: On several occasions during high school I did Habitat for Humanity in Clarksdale, MS. This was my first experience in the South.
Fun Fact: I hate peanut butter. But I love my middle name, Doonan.
Term of Service: November 2011- November 2012
Hometown: Port Townsend, WA via Portland,OR
Favorite Service Experience: This past summer I served as a mentor with Youth Leadership for Sustainability camp in Portland, OR. I had a great time leading middle school students on field trips, and I was able to take in new sights from around the greater Portland area.
Fun Fact: I would like to learn how to play the accordion. Someday…
Sadira Glendenning, Puentes New Orleans
Term Of Service: November 2011-November 2012
Best service memory: To me the best memories circle around the relationships formed. One of my favorite memories was sharing coffee with a Honduran family in their candle lit, dirt floored living room. We were getting into some serious conversation and their naked baby peed on my foot causing us to burst out in laughter and break the ice – good times.
Fun fact: If I could be reincarnated as an animal, I would come back as a Canadian Goose. They’re feisty and get to fly around the world with friends.
Lucy Rosenbloom, Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Term of Service: November 2011- Novmeber 2012
Hometown: Mill Valley, California
Favorite service experience:working at a community radio station in Cape Town, South Africa
Fun fact: Lucy made a pilgrimage this past summer to Britney Spears’ hometown: Kentwood, LA and saw Spears’ childhood room
Selena Poznak, Green Light New Orleans
Term of Service: November 2011- November 2012
Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois
Favorite service experience: Painting a school in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Fun fact: I have another life as a theatrical lighting designer.
Courtni Blackstone, Evacuterr.org
Term of Service: February 2012-February 2013
Hometown: Pineville, Louisiana
Favorite Service Experience: Landscaping at Langston Hughes’ Academy’s Edible school garden in the pouring rain—I fell and slipped around in the mud all afternoon. It was so much fun!!
Fun Fact: When I was in the fifth grade, I started saving to study abroad in Ireland.
Jon Scott, Alliance for Affordable Energy
Term Of Service: February 2012- February 2013
Hometown: Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, which is about 60 miles East of Harrisburg, which is the capital of the state.
My favorite service experience was in Peace Corps. During my two year tour in Morocco I had many great experiences, but I think the best was creating a playground for a boy’s orphanage, which I was taught English at during my first year. I did this during my second year as a secondary project. I wrote a grant, which was approved for the materials and costs to manufacture the equipment, and then I helped cement the finished equipment into the ground and then paint them. It was a great experience, because at the time there was only a slide available for the boys to play on and after we were finished we had six different equipment activities available for the kids.
A fun fact: When I turned twenty-one I wanted to be a waiter, so I could travel around the country and make money while doing so. I eventually ended up working at the Grand Canyon on the south rim in Arizona at a three star hotel called the EL Tovar, which is still there today. During a few days off from the job I decided to hike across the Grand Canyon. I not only hiked from the South Rim to the North rim, but after arriving and sleeping over night at the North Rim. I left really early the next day and hiked back to the South Rim in one day. It’s like 18-27 miles across depending on where you are and what trail you take. I took the bright angel trail down and back. It was amazing to do and I hope to do it again one day.