Keeping the Mission Thriving

Courtney Caldwell, Cloud & Fire AmeriCorps VISTA

My title at Cloud & Fire is Education and Resource Development VISTA, meaning I wear many hats. One hat is being the lead on our next big fundraising event: Race it Forward, a 5K/10K at Hansen Dam April 22nd to raise awareness and support for our organization. I’m excited about the responsibility of being the point person and coordinating all that goes into this annual event. Another hat that I get to wear is the coordinator of outside volunteers, student volunteers and guest speakers. A third is community outreach and partnership building. One more hat, among others, is creating sustainable materials for recruitment, retention, and resource development. It all culminates to a diverse day to day work life. There’s never a dull moment.

I decided to become a VISTA because God called me to the position and I was intrigued by the service aspect. I love that I get to serve my community while being a part of a huge network all across the nation of others who are doing the same. One of the most impactful moments of my service was working tirelessly on our Holiday Dreams Winter Festival with the core event team. In December, we put in countless hours to make the day go very smoothly with zero framework to start with. The four of us came up with everything including the seven group names, like “Jingle Bells” and “Candy Canes,” each full of students, their kids, and parents who went around to the various stations, like “The North Pole” and “Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen.” We also formulated how to manage and assign roles to our 30 SoCalGas Company volunteers. It was quite the feat. Thankfully, the hard work paid off when all commenced without a hitch.

AmeriCorps VISTA service has taught me invaluable information about what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit. I’ve had the privilege of participating in all that it takes to make one of these things run day to day. You need certain roles filled including Executive Director, Administration Assistant, Graphic Designer, Communication and Marketing Coordinator, and Social Media Director, by amazing, well qualified, determined individuals. The entire staff team needs to be on the same page with the vision and in providing the overall atmosphere that the Executive Director desires. There is so much more that I could say, but ultimately I’ve learned that nonprofits are no joke and each has an incredible team behind it to keep the mission thriving.


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