Fighting Poverty with Passion
I’m finishing up on my last week as an AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer, and as I look back on my last 24 months I know I have a lot to be thankful for, because I had an amazing experience volunteering for not one, but two very different non-profit organizations while living in an amazing city like New Orleans.
This past year, I was involved with the New Orleans Fruit Tree Project, which is a relatively new organization for New Orleans, starting its operation in 2011. The NOFTP harvests neighborhood fruit trees and shares the majority of the donated fruit to community organizations helping feed families in need in Louisiana. It’s a great non-profit!
The Alliance for Affordable Energy, which I volunteered during my first year as an AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer, advocates for better energy policies and energy efficiency at the local and state level, and has a long rich history in New Orleans dating back to the 1980’s.
By volunteering with these two non-profits I learned a lot about the much-needed roles non-profits play here in New Orleans post Katrina, and I value the experience and all the committed people I came in contact with and befriended. It’s because of the relationship with the Tulane University’s Center for Public Service department and the AmeriCorps/VISTA program that gave me this amazing opportunity to return to New Orleans almost 30 years after I first traveled to NOLA. I also don’t believe I could have successfully completed my two years as an AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer without all the support from these very, patient, committed and good-hearted people.
I’d like to thank former Vista Leader Ben Brubaker, who not only picked me up from the airport, but provided me a couch to sleep on the first night I flew into NOLA almost two years ago. Casey Roberts, who I’ll never forget her driving me to and from so many outreach events while juggling numerous appointments and her family responsibilities. It was and still is mind-boggling to me how she did it, and with always a positive attitude. I will always be envious of her inner strength and her passionate commitment as the Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy. I also, feel very fortunate to have worked with some very cool Alliance staff members and interns during my time volunteering for the AAE. I just know all your goals in life will come true.
To Megan Nuismer, Executive Director of the Fruit Tree Project. You have a gem of an organization that I can see one day rivaling even the Portland Fruit Tree Project. I’m sure with your passion and direction it will surpass everyone’s expectations. To David Hensley, NOFTP intern extraordinaire, thank you for your support and making my job so much easier. I want to thank all the volunteers who helped the NOFTP finish so many field projects over this past year. It was great volunteering with all of you and to the old and new NOFTP interns. I wish you great success in your traveling lives.
To all the past and present AmeriCorps/VISTA’s plus staff members, who I shared service days, updates, workshops and a few beers over the last 24 months. You continue to remind me that there are amazing, hardworking and selfless people out there in the world doing amazing thing for others, and I met many of them here in New Orleans, LA. Take Care, Jon Scott