Want to serve the community of Wyandotte County and improve community health?
Seeking: Motivated, flexible and passionate individuals who are willing to dedicate a year helping us to engage, empower and improve our community.
Three years ago, Mayor Mark Holland formed a partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service to create an AmeriCorps VISTA program that could support the work our city government is doing to create positive change in Wyandotte County, Kansas. That partnership has grown, and we now have 9 full-time, year-long VISTA positions serving different departments at the city. By their nature, governments exist to serve the public. And when we’re doing it right, we are entrusting our staff to get out from behind their computers and go listen to people, build coalitions and find creative ways to bring services to those in need.
Our VISTA members don’t sit at the kids’ table. The AmeriCorps program reads on paper like an internship, but you’ll be treated like a member of the staff. You’ll have ground level access and be asked to take on a lot of responsibility. If you’re up for the work, you’ll likely be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish. To date our VISTAs have: built websites, developed full-fledged messaging campaigns, successfully written grants, visited prisons to help inmates sign up for health insurance, lobbied Commissioners for the right to keep backyard hens, helped implement water tap programs for urban farmers, drafted communications plans, led county-wide listening tours, organized bicycle donations for kids in need and worked with the Bloomberg Foundation to come up with innovative ways to reduce neighborhood blight.
Reach out if you have questions, and find out more about our positions below. If you’re interested, email your resume and cover letter to Lindsay Behgam at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting you!
Wyandotte County has a remarkable and diverse history. Of approximately 162,000 residents, we are one of only two counties in the country with both African American and Hispanic communities that comprise over 25% of the population. We are a community on the rise. And while we’ve seen a lot of growth, development and positive change in the last couple of decades, we still face a challenging economic climate, where 23% of residents live below the poverty level.
AmeriCorps VISTA is a national anti-poverty service program. There is no traditional pay, but participants receive a living allowance and limited benefits, like health care and payment toward your student loans. Does that make you nervous? We get it. Not everyone is in a position in their life to serve for a year for not much money. But if you care about improving communities, if you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop your professional skills AND make a difference, we’ll make it worth your while.
(click title for full job description)
Childhood Trauma Prevention Coordinator
More and more research shows a direct connection between childhood trauma and poor health outcomes later in life. A newly-established effort called “Alive and Thrive Wyandotte” was created this year to raise awareness about Adverse Childhood Experiences and their impact on health. This position would participate in helping create strategies for reducing childhood trauma.
Safe Communities Advocate
A healthy community is also a safe community. The VISTA member working with the Safe Communities Project will be intimately involved in a Health Department based effort to increase intentional violence & injury prevention, reduce traffic safety injuries & fatalities, as well as supporting programs for kids who walk & bike to school. These efforts employ strategies which use the 5 E's (education, enforcement, engineering, emergency response, and evaluation) that assure empowerment and equity among those served.
SOAR (2 positions)
Wyandotte County has a housing crisis. White - and economic - flight in the 1960s left housing stock to deteriorate. Now, Wyandotte County's urban core is mainly low-income families with few resources to maintain older properties in poor condition. Two VISTA members assigned to our new SOAR Program will work with a cross-departmental team that has resolved to aggressively attack both the causes and symptoms that lead to blight and vacancy.
Mayor's Office (Healthy Campus)
Downtown Kansas City, Kansas has been a food desert for years. This is one of the reasons Mayor Mark Holland has made both health and economic development top priorities in his administration. The VISTA member assigned to the Mayor’s Office will work directly on the Healthy Campus initiative, which is a multi-million dollar development designed to bring recreational and healthy food resources to residents in need. Additionally, this VISTA will support community engagement and communications efforts for the office by helping manage the Mayor’s social media presence and developing strategies and content for different, county-wide constituencies.
Youth Tobacco Advocate
Smoking is one of the top three reasons why our county is ranked last for health in Kansas. Almost one in every four Wyandotte County adults currently smokes. Our Tobacco Cessation team is looking for a Prevention Advocate who will form a youth coalition that will empower teens to expose and work against Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing tactics and unjust targeting of the Wyandotte County Community.
Learn more about VISTA !
Meredith Keith, 2015 VISTA alumna
VISTA prepared me for the next step in my journey, hopefully as a clinician. I found motivation for obtaining a medical degree in the hopes of serving those who cannot easily access health care. It is my belief that everyone deserves health and I will fight to provide what I can for these individuals. I am extremely grateful to all of those who helped me this year and am forever indebted to VISTA for sending this challenge my way. There is no doubt in my mind I am a better person as a result of this experience and I would recommend this opportunity for growth to everyone. It’s my belief that life is about challenging ourselves and learning from our experiences whether we fall or stay standing. I fell a few times this year, but I learned from my falls and in the future I will be equipped with the tools to know how to stay standing through similar perils. Thank you VISTA, thank you Wyandotte County, and thank you everyone I met this year who helped support me in my growth.
Lucas Behrens, 2016 VISTA alumnus
Serving in Mayor Holland's office as an Americorps VISTA was an amazing opportunity. Working alongside many community partners, I was able to learn about the governmental processes in KCK specifically, and also about how local government works more generally, all in a setting that encourages growth. I greatly enjoyed my time in the VISTA program, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to better understand and work in local government.
Sarah Hartwig, current VISTA
VISTA has been an incredible experience so far. Being a healthy food access advocate has helped solidify my desire to find a career in the food system and has expanded my horizons. I never would have had the opportunity to work on so many different projects or meet such amazing people if I had not taken this position. This experience has taught me how to work with many diverse community partners and help build coalitions, as well as to better understand the inner workings of local and state government. It has been a year of great personal growth and learning, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.