Life as a VISTA: Changing Perspectives

Imagine being a ten year old child telling your mom that you want to help people. It might seem odd for a child to think like that at such a young age because children have often not seen the needs that exist yet.  I am a first generation college student who did not know the importance of education due to financial reasons. I started my college journey as a business major. Mainly because my teachers told me that a business degree pays the most money and when you finish college you will be rich and successful. They were wrong, and so was I to believe such a theory. I could not get past accounting 2 and thought to myself, this is it. This major isn’t for me I am not passionate about this. I sat down with an advisor, and she asked me, “What are you passionate about?” I told her, “People”. I just want to help people. I began my classes to learn more about the Nonprofit sector. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership. I hope by saying all of this,  you understand how learning about organizations who bridge the gap for so many needs and social issues is different than working as a servant in the community.

As the Volunteer Coordinator for Helping Mamas, I realize everyday how our services can determine how a family’s day will go.. Families receiving essential items can determine if they will smile or stress. Prior to working as a VISTA I did not know how tough motherhood can be. I did not know that diapers were expensive and often time families in poverty have to make decisions that can affect their children. I could not imagine choosing between food or diapers because both are needed. I was not aware. That is just it. I did not know that some mothers had to make this decision daily. As a woman, I feel it is important to uplift and support other women during these times.

My perspective on poverty changed when I took on the VISTA position. I was able to understand that things happen. There are different types of poverty, and some things are out of our control. There is so much you can learn by allowing yourself to understand what issues we have in today’s society and how you can help. My biggest goal is to educate the public on issues that are going on in their community and find ways to get involved. High school students, educators, college students, policy makers, families, mothers, and everyone else in between- there is so much we can accomplish when we come together and bridge the gap for certain needs. I also want to encourage anyone who feels like giving up, please keep going because it is so worth it. Ask for help and seek resources. Determine your happiness and do not allow anyone to take that away from you. I was just a college student who wanted to help people, and did not realize how my job can be my passion.

Author: Demitrah Rasmussen