Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: YMCA Educational Services (YES!)–Stephanie W.

I officially decided not to renew a year with VISTA. As much as I have enjoyed working with YES!, I have found that it is not financially feasible for me to do another year. When I decided to move out of state just over a year ago, the task of finding housing and a job in an unfamiliar city was daunting. The benefit of free housing and a living stipend as a Tulane VISTA saved me a lot of the time and stress. Although I initially saw this opportunity as a landing pad for me in New Orleans, I never imagined how much I would learn and become deeply invested. Alas, I must move on to support myself (and my cat) so I am back to where I started a year ago—looking for a job and housing. Nevertheless, I am in a much better position given the invaluable experience and connections I have made in this city thanks to YES!.


This last month at my site requires creating a sustainability binder for the next VISTA. Like a relay race, the baton hand off should be as seamless as possible. The hope is to leave the next VISTA with all the information and resources I have accumulated so that they are not wasting their term learning things from scratch. The 5k run most definitely requires an entire guidebook and manual which will not only benefit the next VISTA, but also my supervisor and whoever else ends up taking the reins for the race.

While working as an International Branch Specialist, I was provided a manual on how to input transactions in a particular software program. As time passed, I edited and added to this manual to ensure that the next person would be aware of potential mistakes or errors to be avoided. There are good and bad times to learn from our mistakes, especially when it involves other people’s money. For any business-type relationship—say donors or board members, for example—knowing a person’s personality, communication style, and/or demeanor is essential. This understanding comes from building that relationship from the ground up. When it comes time to pass on that type of knowledge, it is difficult to (and sometimes shouldn’t be) put into writing, but still stands to benefit someone new to the position. Institutional knowledge will always be a precious commodity.

In the meantime, I have been helping to round up sponsors and in-kind donations for Corporate Cup. We have found that it is too early or too late for some businesses to commit to a sponsorship, which puts us in an ongoing state of unease as the date slowly but surely approaches. In spite of this, we are excited to add a few new things to this year’s race to create a bit of hype. This includes a new division for running groups and clubs in which the winning team will receive bar tabs, prizes for participants, and (possibly) an outdoor game like cornhole for everyone to casually enjoy!

Until next (and my last) month… grab a popsicle from me after a 2-mile run at the 2017 Summer Series, hosted by the New Orleans Track Club!

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2017 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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