Sacred Heart Community Services is a non-denominational, non-profit organization that provides integrated services on site, free of charge, to all in need. The VISTA member works specifically with Sacred Heart’s La Mesa Verde program (LMV) as a Volunteer Network Coordinator. La Mesa Verde’s goal is to improve healthy eating and well-being of low-income families and increase self-sufficiency through home-organic vegetable gardens. The VISTA works to improve volunteer retention and volunteer coordination systems for La Mesa Verde by improving volunteer training curricula and training volunteers to implement LMV’s first year gardening course. Additionally, the VISTA helps to improve existing outreach methods to recruit more volunteers and beneficiaries for the program by creating a mapping process to identify more clients and developing more effective communication procedures through in-person outreach, email newsletters, and social media. The VISTA continually works to create a sustainable network of organizational support for the LMV program by leveraging relationships with community organizations, supporting grassroot fundraising efforts, and soliciting in kind donations.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is a trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. Second Harvest Food Bank’s VISTA serves as a Volunteer and Resource Coordinator. The VISTA is responsible for strengthening the current volunteer and support network for the Produce Mobile program, which distributes produce to over 3,000 clients in underserved areas of Santa Clara County. The VISTA assesses current sites and develops ongoing best practices to alleviate drop-off among Produce Mobile site participation. The VISTA also works to improve current outreach strategies to recruit more Produce Mobile volunteers, food bank beneficiaries, and leaders for the Community Ambassadors program. The VISTA builds capacity by cultivating relationships with community organizations to serve as outreach partners, refines tracking systems to track new Produce Mobile clients, develops volunteer training curricula, and trains volunteers for the Produce Mobile and Community Ambassadors programs.
The Health Trust is an operating foundation founded in 1996. Since then, it has been a catalyst for community partnerships that identify health challenges and work together to find innovative solutions. The Health Trust provides grants, engages in policy and education and continues its legacy of providing health services to make Silicon Valley healthier for everyone. The Health Trust’s VISTA works with The Health Trust’s Meals on Wheels program as a Resource Coordinator. The VISTA is responsible for volunteer coordination and management by creating better volunteer training curricula, training Meals on Wheels volunteers, and creating a Train-the-Trainer model for volunteer leaders and staff. The VISTA also works to improve current client outreach systems used to link clients to Meals on Wheels services. The VISTA supports work to build a better client outreach plan and will pilot the plan among health fairs and among community events. Additionally, the VISTA is in charge of creating new tracking systems to track new clients that are CalFresh beneficiaries and those who are in need of additional services.
Veggielution seeks to create equity between people and the environment in San Jose by bringing sustainable urban farming to the community. Veggielution’s VISTA serves as the Veggielution Volunteer Coordinator at Emma Prusch Park Farm. The VISTA works to strengthen the current system for recruiting and engaging residents in surrounding low-income areas to serve as volunteers and leaders to help with workday activities such as construction, planting, weeding, composting, and harvesting at the farm. Additionally, the VISTA is responsible for managing new volunteers by developing volunteer training curricula and orientation tools for Veggielution’s Sponsored Group Workday Program and for general farm workdays. The VISTA will build a Train-the-Trainer model by recruiting and training volunteer leaders confident and skilled at facilitating future orientations for new volunteers.
Esther Ng, Veggielution
My name is Esther Ng and I am a graduate from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and a minor in Business. In my free time, I enjoy exploring the NorCal Coast, painting, growing my succulent garden, and drinking coffee.
Growing up in San Jose, I watched the tech industry rise, the housing market expand, and issues of community development become more apparent. As I learned more about social disparities and inequality in all aspects of human development, I decided to invest my time back in my hometown. My hands on experience from working with different nonprofits in this area gave me a passion to learn more about how to build a stronger community in San Jose through education, health, and food.
This will be my second year at Veggielution as a SVHC VISTA . I look forward to contributing to strengthening organizational structures, reaching out to the community, and sharing the experiences that food brings together.
Koko Novak, Veggielution
Koko is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Spanish in 2016. She was involved in various clubs and organizations while attending college and was most inspired by her time with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and as a student mentor, which sparked her interests in community building and healthy food access. Koko is excited to work in San Jose and combine those interests as a Silicon Valley HealthCorps VISTA at Veggielution. At Veggielution, she works with the community through 1st Saturdays and Veggielution Cocina.
Manuel Santana, Second Harvest Food Bank, Site 1
My name is Manuel Santana, I was born and raised in San Jose and I’m proud to be working in my hometown, helping my community and Second Harvest Food Bank relieve the impact of food insecurity. I just finished my return to college and I earned my Associates Degree of Transfer. I will be applying to Colleges concurrent to my AmeriCorps service. I am a history major.
I’m a father of two beautiful kids and a member of the San Jose indigenous community with roots in central Mexico.
Mampi Singh, The Health Trust, Meals on Wheels
My name is Mampi Singh and I am the Volunteer and Resource Coordinator at The Health Trust Jerry Larson FOODBasket. I am a recent graduate from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In my free time, I enjoy drinking coffee, trying new food, and exploring the Bay Area. Being a part of a service co-ed fraternity throughout my undergraduate career, I have volunteered at various organizations and have experienced different ways of volunteer recruitment and engagement. I have also spent a summer as a summer VISTA at a local community garden in Ohio, where I worked with other volunteers to grow food to donate to the local food pantries. With this knowledge and experience, I hope to increase the number of volunteers at the FOODBasket, develop efficient ways we can engage with our volunteers, work on fundraisers, and to improve the overall volunteer experience. I am thrilled to be working alongside the volunteers, clients, and staff while we work to promote healthy food to the San Jose community!
Cody Vu, The Health Trust, Site 2
Hello, I’m Cody Vu, Bay Area born and raised, with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Biology from the University of Southern California. Located adjacent to Downtown Los Angeles, there was a stark contrast between the wealth of the campus and the surrounding neighborhood. While in college, I worked with my fraternity on a philanthropic event called Zeta Phi Skid Rho to produce thousands of bag lunches (previously held the world record for most sandwiches produced in an hour!) for the local homeless population. Food access and food security, though I didn’t know the specific terms, have always been a concern of mine. That’s why I’m working with The Health Trust as a VISTA. I hope to build upon the work done by previous VISTAs before me, creating systems and strategies to ensure that food gets to people in need. There are plenty of resources and programs available, and I want to be the one to make sure that people take advantage of them. Outside of work, I like watching sports, swimming, and taking pictures of my Terriers, Benny and Rusty.
Lindsey Zimmer, La Mesa Verde, Sacred Heart Community Service
My name is Lindsey and I am the Volunteer Coordinator for La Mesa Verde at Sacred Heart Community Service. I recently graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Global Health. My focus in school was on food systems and environmental health, making La Mesa Verde a great opportunity for me to help make change in our food system in San Jose and gain new perspectives on food justice. This year I hope to learn more about the community in San Jose and work with them to make nutritious fruits and vegetables more accessible here in San Jose. In my free time I can be found exploring California after recently moving from North Carolina, hiking, climbing, doing yoga, or discovering a new restaurant or recipe!