Open Positions at Cloud & Fire!

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Current VISTAs Courtney (left) and Lindsey (right).

Cloud & Fire is looking for three AmeriCorps VISTA members for the coming 2017-2018 school year. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national program in which individuals commit to a year-long term of full-time service at a nonprofit organization. VISTAs are dedicated to building an organization’s capacity to serve the community by creating new systems or improving existing ones. The member receives biweekly stipends and an education award to be used toward paying off student loans or furthering their education. If the education award isn’t desired, the VISTA will receive a cash stipend at the end of their service year. Are you interested in applying or do you know someone who would be? Learn how to apply here.

See what one of our current VISTAs has to say about her time serving at Cloud & Fire:

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“I have had many impactful moments during my service from seeing an event that was built from scratch come together as a major success to hearing positive feedback from students and staff impacted by my work.  So far, I’ve helped upgrade several curriculum or general systems that teachers use in their classrooms, so it brings me great joy every time I hear a student or staff exclaim how something they used to find difficult has been simplified with my help. It’s a small thing, but it reminds me of how I have helped so far and motivates me to keep serving.”

– Lindsey, current VISTA member.

Interested in becoming a VISTA? Here’s how to apply: 

  1. Click the links below to review the position that you would like to apply for and submit your application:
    1. Development Project Leader
    2. PSE Transition Leader
  2. Email your resume and a writing sample to: christina@cloudandfire.org

Please submit your resume and writing sample by June 12th

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Resourcing Students’ Present and Future Experiences

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Lindsey Betts, Cloud & Fire AmeriCorps VISTA

My role here at Cloud & Fire has been Education and Postsecondary Education Success VISTA, which means I mostly support the Career and College Pathways coach in enriching our students’ educational experience and providing them with support for their future endeavors. Part of my role has been to build up the academic culture at Cloud & Fire through helping develop new and existing programs and events, like The Watering Hole, our student-run cafe and music night. I also have helped to reinforce a college culture, my recent project being our up and coming College Club, where students have a space to explore post secondary education options as well as become accustomed to the differences of a college classroom.

In my life up until now, I’ve always been very focused on myself and my immediate community, whether that meant focusing on my studies or only serving others when it happened to be my job. I felt it was about time to give back, and not just to the community I grew up in, but those particularly under resourced. Being a VISTA was the perfect opportunity to partner with an organization who not only needed me but also shared my desire to resource students in the San Fernando Valley.

I have had many impactful moments during my service from seeing an event that was built from scratch come together as a major success to hearing positive feedback from students and staff impacted by my work.  So far, I’ve helped upgrade several curriculum or general systems that teachers use in their classrooms, so it brings me great joy every time I hear a student or staff exclaim how something they used to find difficult has been simplified with my help. It’s a small thing, but it reminds me of how I have helped so far and motivates me to keep serving.

However, it is my own worldview that has been impacted the most. I’ve become more fully aware of the true magnitude of our students’ needs from educators as well as their community, and the disparity between what resources they are given and what they truly need. I’ve also learned that though I’m young, I am more capable of supporting students and families than I thought; any life experience can be used to teach or at least encourage those around you.

Keeping the Mission Thriving

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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.

A Day On, Not a Day Off

img_1216On Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service 2017, one of the Cloud & Fire AmeriCorps VISTAs, Courtney, spent her holiday as “a day on, not a day off.” She participated in two service projects in Los Angeles. First, she spent her morning at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital packing snack bags for homeless youth who come to the hospital for treatment (see picture on the left). Then, Courtney spent the afternoon south of Downtown Los Angeles at Dorsey High School with 1,500 other AmeriCorps members at a project put on by LA Works. The volunteers fanned out around the school to do many enhancement and upkeep projects to help make the students proud of their school again. Courtney gladly spread out mulch in the planters around the area of the campus where the students eat lunch. She reports, “It was great to work with my hands and maneuver the soil. Living in a very urban community, I rarely get to work with the earth. It was a blessing to get back to nature in such a practical way.”

Even after hard labor and being out in the sun, Courtney felt energized and empowered having served her greater Los Angeles community. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous question: “What are you doing for others?” was easily answered that day.

Paid Internships at Cloud & Fire!

Cloud & Fire is looking for two AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members for the coming 2016-2017 school year. VISTA is a national program in which individuals commit to a year-long term of full-time service at a nonprofit organization. VISTAs are dedicated to building an organization’s capacity to serve the community by creating new systems or improving existing ones. The member receives biweekly stipends and an education award at the end of their service year to be used toward paying off student loans or furthering their education.

See what our current and previous VISTAs have to say about their time serving at Cloud & Fire:

” Serving at Cloud & Fire has allowed me to come out of my shell and be more outspoken. They gave me the tools to go out and explore, learn, and succeed! Because of C&F, I gained a new perspective on my community and my role in its advancement. It’s never been more apparent to me that we are a generation of creators, builders, and doers. It’s been especially inspiring to see our young people achieve their goals and move on to brighter futures.”-Lindsey, past VISTA member.

“It has been inspiring to witness so many young lives impacted by Cloud & Fire. Serving at Cloud & Fire has allowed me to be a part of something greater than myself; working alongside people of different backgrounds all coming together for the greater good of the community we serve. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we allow our differences to unite us instead of tearing us apart.”-Sarah, current VISTA member.

Interested in becoming a VISTA? Here’s how to apply: 

  1. Review the VISTA Assignment Description that you would like to apply for:
    1. Marketing/PR VISTA
    2. Education Success VISTA
  2. Submit an application through the AmeriCorps website: my.americorps.gov
  3. Email your resume and a writing sample to: christina@cloudandfire.org

Applications are due by: May 30th

California YouthBuild Days 2016: A Student’s Perspective

Written by YouthBuild student, Havah Sterns.

During our 2016 YouthBuild trip to Sacramento, I learned various things about leadership and the consciousness shift the Government is having. There were a few amazing seminars I attended, one of which spoke about the fallacy of labels and how this world functions on them. During the class, they had us go around the room looking at certain pictures and we had to write down what we thought about that individual solely based on what they looked like at that very moment, negating who they are. After everyone gave their opinion, the instructor read the labels out loud and then told us what their occupation is and a small description of who they are. After everyone heard the truth, they all felt quite guilty. The seminar was to teach us that labels are not who we are. The truth about who we are lies within our soul. The instructor continued to educate us about the truth of equality and how we are all the same.

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Havah Sterns (pictured left) practicing her elevator presentation with YouthBuild alumni at California YouthBuild Days Leadership Development Conference in Sacramento.

The next memorable event I enjoyed was the keynote speaker at the end of the day. He had an amazing slideshow to go along with his empowering story. He spoke about his troubled past and how he rose to victory through the lessons of his journey. One of the slides that caught my attention was a poem from Tupac Shakur titled, “A Rose That Grew From Concrete.” Despite the adversity in life, it is possible to break through into unbelievable beauty and greatness. The second slide that caught my eye was a quote from Albert Einstein saying “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This quote is phenomenally profound. We all have an infinite amount of power, we are all gifted in our own ways, and we all have an inner voice designated to change the world. As leaders, we must empower that voice, we must empower our authenticity and cultivate our true being. We must unite and become the change we wish to see in the world, one step at a time.

During the tour at the Capitol, they introduced a new bill being turned into law that I grew very passionate about. This bill is called SB 1216 and it gives a tax incentive to employers to hire people with a criminal record who are trying to better themselves. Society generally views criminals as a malignant cancer-a continuous poison that will only worsen with no hope of change. The fact that their perception is such that they now view felons as lost individuals as opposed to inherently bad people, gives me hope that this world will heal and continue healing.

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Cloud & Fire students on the front steps of the Capitol.

About the Author

Havah Sterns (pictured bottom right)  is a current YouthBuild student and part of the YouthBuild Policy Council (YBPC).

Government Education Days (GED) 2015: A Student’s Perspective

Written by YouthBuild student, Angel Telphy.

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Cloud & Fire YouthBuild students stand in front of the State Capital in Sacramento.

Finding out about the opportunity to travel to Sacramento was great and I immediately said “yes” in my mind. Once I knew for sure that the trip was in motion, I started talking to a few of the girls about what we all felt it would be like. Though it seemed like forever for the day to come when we’d hop in our Cloud & Fire van and drive to L.A. to get on a bus, the wait was worth it! I felt a little nervous to leave but I got very excited once that morning came.

Being on the road for 6 and a half hours wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. There was television, Wi-Fi, outlets to charge your phones, iPod’s, etc. It was nice! Once we arrived in Sacramento we gathered our bags and waited to settle into our rooms…that wait felt longer than the bus ride.

There was barely enough time to sleep in the great days ahead of us. We got to meet YouthBuild students from all over, A.V. YouthBuild, Compton YouthBuild, Oregon YouthBuild, San Fernando Valley YouthBuild, and YouthBuild Institute…there was plenty more, and I even saw some familiar faces. We had the chance to rotate around because they wanted us to interact with everyone and know that this was our family. There were ice breakers, folders with information inside, and games to play. It was also a chance for anyone who was willing to run for CSTAC, an alumni council. We had dinner (which tasted awesome) then headed to our rooms, had a talk and went to sleep. Everyone had to be up early because they had a lot planned for us. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner served to us. We got colors placed on our name tags and whichever color you had that was the group you had to be with. In our groups we were all sent to different workshops. In one of the workshops we learned about different “-isms,” adult-ism, sex-ism, racism, etc. It was good learning about these things that most of us do every day without realizing it. Later that night we had a celebration for all of us YouthBuilders and played games, had karaoke, and gave prizes to the winners.

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Our students met with Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian for an in-depth conversation where they shared personal stories, the importance of Cloud & Fire YouthBuild, leadership, community needs, and advocating for more funding through a specified legislature.

Our last day in Sacramento, we met Adrin Nazarian, an assembly member of the forty-sixth district for Van Nuys, Ca. We got a tour of the “white house” of Sacramento (State Capital). The Governor’s office was there, along with pictures of Arnold S., Jerry Brown, Ronald Reagan, and many more. We learned about how the government was back then, and we saw the safe from 1846, I believe. There were also spit cans by the chairs where they wrote laws and those were used for the men who chew Tobacco. We got to hold imitations of the silver coins that were $20.00 back then which was a lot in those days.

Everyone from my YouthBuild took pictures, played card games, and talked about how this experience would change our lives and not to mention give us more knowledge. One thing I loved about this trip was a saying they had us do: “YOUTHBUILD YOUTHBUILD HOW YA’LL FEELIN’?”  And we’d say “IGHT IGHT!” I’ll keep that locked in my head for life! After visiting the State Capital we said our goodbyes. Overall I am glad I didn’t back down and got to live this chapter in my life. I would do it all over again if we had the chance tomorrow!

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About the Author

Angel Telphy is a current YouthBuild student and part of the YouthBuild Policy Council (YBPC).