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VISTA Frequently Asked Questions

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Current as of May 24, 2017.
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What is AmeriCorps VISTA?

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 50 years.

 

What are the benefits of VISTA?

  • A $5,920 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or $1,800 post-service stipend, upon completing your service.
  • Modest living allowance: Members will receive $12,311-$14,136 (varies by county) for the year paid every two weeks. This amount is federally taxed and reflects the pre-tax amount.
  • Healthcare benefits while in service, (please visit americorpsvista.imglobal.com for more info.)
  • Childcare assistance while in service.
  • Student loan forbearance or deferment while in service for qualified federal loans
  • One year of noncompetitive status for a federal government job
  • Access to the network of VISTA & VISTA Alumni (170,000 strong)
  • Valuable training (pre-service and in-service training from CNCS, state training and on-site training)
  • Settling-in allowance of up to $550 for those relocating over 50 miles for a service placement. A member will also receive an additional relocation allowance, based on direct mileage between his/her home of record and site. This translates into 23 cents per travel mile plus 10 cents a mile to cover shipping costs not to exceed $1,000.  No shipping receipts are necessary.
  • In our program, mileage reimbursement for trips will also be available.  Some sites are able to provide transit passes and other benefits.

 

What are the benefits of joining the Oregon Health Authority VISTA team?

The Oregon Health Authority, which is the state health department, manages the project to ensure the highest quality placements.  We recruit and screen the host sites and supervisors, support VISTAs during the entire onboarding process, orient your future supervisor to their duties, provide an overhead team of staff and VISTA Leaders to support you during your year of VISTA service.  We sponsor a four-day kick off retreat for each team, and hold at least four other team meetings during the year, in different locations around Oregon.

Many VISTA placements are stand alone positions, but our positions are integrated as a team to provide cameraderie, professional and personal support, and ensure a high quality and productive year of service for you and the community you serve.

 

How do I apply?

Complete and submit the online AmeriCorps application, which can be found at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/login.do under the Apply to Serve section. Sending cover letters and resumes to the Project Coordinator (Danielle Brown danielle.y.brown@state.or.us) is strongly encouraged and may strengthen your application.

 

Should I apply to multiple positions in the Oregon Health Authority team?

Yes, definitely, if you are flexible about where you live and serve as a VISTA.  Each position is handled separately by the supervisor and interview panel for that position and host site.  It does not weaken your standing in their eyes to apply to multiple positions.  Only the Oregon Health Authority team sees your multipe applications and we encourage it in order to ensure the strongest candidates find just the right match among all the host sites we are recruiting for.

 

What happens after I submit my application?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. You should expect to hear from a representative from the Oregon Health Authority within two weeks about the possibility of an interview. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to check on the status of your application.

 

Where do Oregon Health Authority AmeriCorps VISTA members serve?

Our VISTAs serve at sites throughout the state of Oregon, in both rural and urban communities.

 

How long is my AmeriCorps VISTA service?

VISTA members are placed at a site for one year (12 months). The start date for the next Oregon Public Health VISTA team will be in late February. VISTA members will attend an in-person Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) a week prior to their start date, with travel provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Upon successful completion of a year of service, VISTA members generally can apply for an additional year of service (reenroll) subject to available placements. Not all reenrollments are approved, however if you are granted a reenrollment, keep in mind you may only earn two Eli Segal Education Award vouchers, including any time served in any AmeriCorps program. Members are welcome to serve additional years with the VISTA program, but will only have the choice of the $1,500 stipend upon completion of service.

 

Are the start dates flexible?

No, the start and end dates are set and members must be able to make required orientations and start dates at their host sites, so you will be expected to start at your site on that day. If Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) occurs as an in-person orientation, attendance will be mandatory.

 

Can I get a part time job on the side?

As of May 3, 2015, AmeriCorps VISTA members are allowed to have outside employment. The outside employment must be approved by their supervisor, be legal, and not interfere with regular service work hours or other AmeriCorps VISTA events and trainings.

 

What kinds of training opportunities are available to me as an Oregon AmeriCorps VISTA?

During Pre-Service Orientation (PSO), VISTAs will learn about diverse topics like: the history of the VISTA program, poverty concepts, understanding your placement, organizational culture, rights and responsibilities, and capacity building. The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division (the sponsoring agency for Oregon’s statewide public health VISTA program), then provides the VISTA members an additional orientation and training. This orientation and retreat covers public health, the team, life in Oregon, and critical professional development skills. In addition, various training opportunities will be provided throughout the year of service, including all-team retreats in different parts of the state, team attendance at state conferences, and individual participation in training requested by the VISTA or their supervisor. These training opportunities will include a variety of topics, such as public health science, leadership, tools of strategic planning, grant writing, creative communication, volunteer management, alternative fundraising, and living on a VISTA budget.

 

Facts about the Oregon Health Authority/AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project

  • In Oregon, there are 36 counties with 34 Local Health Departments, and 9 Oregon Tribes.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that operates nationwide service programs, such as AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps. There is a State Office for CNCS located in downtown Portland.
  • In 2009, the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division (OHA-PHD) applied to CNCS to become a Sponsoring Agency to develop a partnership project between the Medical Reserve Corps and the AmeriCorps VISTA programs. Since then, OHA has expanded its VISTA Partnership Project to include health department accreditation, chronic disease prevention, environmental health, oral health, disaster healthcare volunteer management, healthcare reform, health equity, and many other projects targeting specific public health issues that impact people living in poverty.
  • The OHA AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership Project continues to be the largest VISTA project in the state of Oregon.
  • Local Health Departments (LHDs) and other organizations apply to the state Public Health Division to be selected as a host site for a VISTA member. During this process we vet each site to ensure they have dedicated and enthusiastic supervisors, clear vision for the project, and the resources needed to fully support the VISTA’s projects and year of service.
  • Agreements are drafted and signed between Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division and CNCS, as well as between the Public Health Division and each host sites.
  • Recruitment, selection and processing of VISTAs will begin in November 2017 and continue until early January 2018.
  • The state Public Health Division has developed a training and orientation program for all VISTAs. Site supervision and on-site training will happen throughout the year of service.
  • A service year is one year, full-time. For example, those VISTA members who are sworn into service beginning August 18, 2017 will end their service on August 17, 2018.

 

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