Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey is one of several non-profits throughout the country that hosts AmeriCorps VISTA members. Founded in 1964, VISTA was an opportunity to make an impact on communities through President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty. Since then, more than 220,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members have worked with local organizations to implement new programs and services, develop resources, expand each organization’s capacity, and positively impact their communities. VISTA members, typically recent college graduates, join a non-profit organization, like JFCS, for one year; during that time they become a part of the organization’s team, allowing them the opportunity to learn and focus their passions on what interests them most. Then they to move on to new opportunities, continuing their education or getting jobs at non-profits.
For Katie Wolchko, finding a career pathway after college was no easy feat. “I liked my job, but I wanted to explore different roles in the non-profit world, especially fundraising,” she said. “My father recommended AmeriCorps VISTA, a program I had never heard of, but upon further research I found it to offer so many opportunities to work in community organizations and give back in a direct way.” She joined JFCS through VISTA in 2018, working on non-profit development through special events and grant writing. By the time her one-year VISTA service was over, she filled an open paid position at JFCS. Emily, the food pantry VISTA member, also joined JFCS at the end of her one-year service. They both credit much of their success to VISTA.
Stefanie Rendine, JFCS’ marketing VISTA member this year, saw Ameri-Corps as a chance to build her skills and explore a new career in marketing and fundraising while taking graduate level courses online. “Upon completion of my year, AmeriCorps will offer an educational grant to help with school,” she said. “This experience has helped me to focus my specific area of interest within non-profit, and has set me up with skills I can use in my next endeavor.”
AmeriCorps, a federal government program, provides benefits to graduates and service-minded people that include a financial stipend, professional development, a health allowance account, early access to future federal government positions, and an end-of-service tuition award or a cash stipend.
JFCS now has several openings for AmeriCorps VISTA members in its Teaneck office. Roles include agency administration, Re-Launch Career Services, and the Corner Market/Food Pantry. For more information, call (201) 837-9090, ext. 225. To apply for a VISTA role within JFCS, go to jfcsnnj.org/careers and send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be eligible for AmeriCorps, members must be at least 18 years-old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. To find out more about AmeriCorps, go to americorps.gov/serve/fit-finder/americorps-vista.