Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: New Orleans Outreach

Part of my role as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with New Orleans Outreach is to plan and execute volunteer projects at New Orleans Outreach’s partner schools.  I have learned there is an enormous amount of hard work that goes into planning and prep work, the day of the project, as well as post-project to create a successful outcome.  Managing a special project gets even trickier when multiple projects occur on the same day (and same time), as I cannot be in more than one place at time, so delegation and multi-tasking must occur.The day before MLK Day and the day of, I helped manage 8 projects.  This was no easy undertaking, but the reward of the time and effort the volunteers dedicated was far greater! Martin Luther King Jr. himself once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  The individuals that volunteered in 5 of New Orleans Outreach’s partner schools over the MLK weekend and MLK day could answer this question wonderfully.

I know the projects would not have been successful, rewarding to the schools, or enjoyable to the volunteers without the support teams that graciously assisted me.  There are many lessons I learned and reaffirmed from these projects, such as pay attention to details, do not stress if everything is not perfect (volunteers will notice the stress), or always make sure volunteers are having a great time.  I think, however, the most important lesson I can take away from MLK 2011 is to trust and empower others involved in the project.  I made sure everyone had the necessary materials and a plan for how the day should go.  I also made sure I had my phone on at all times so I could assist with any concerns.  For MLK day, I had 5 projects going at the same exact time.  There were numerous kinks that I helped smooth over, but I know these kinks could not have been resolved without the individuals at each school running the projects.

– Elizabeth “Betsy” Lopez, AmeriCorps VISTA Visit New Orleans Outreach, to learn more about the Outreach program and volunteer opportunities in your area.

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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