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An Early Valentine for the February VISTAs

AmeriCorps VISTA members dedicate a year of service to help make sustainable, organizational change through capacity building efforts (such as fundraising, grant writing, volunteer recruitment, and so much more). In the span of a year, there are roughly 16 AmeriCorps VISTA members serving with Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation (TMPF). I started serving as TMPF’s VISTA Leader in February 2021 alongside three talented, intelligent, and remarkable other VISTAs. With our service year quickly coming to a close, I’d like to highlight, and most importantly, wholeheartedly thank these three VISTA members for their dedication to AmeriCorps service and TMPF’s mission and goals. Chris Garrity, Jacqui Dalton and Rachel Carroll have undoubtedly made sustainable change at TMPF through their service. Don’t just take my word for it, though, here’s what each of their supervisors have to say about their impact at TMPF:

Chris Garrity (Nature Study Area Development Coordinator)

Chris (far left) and the Development department at the Rosewood Nature Study area public opening.

“The service Chris has provided during his time at TMPF will be everlasting. Last year, the Rosewood Nature Study launched its capital campaign with a goal to raise over $250,000. As the incoming Nature Study Area Development Coordinator VISTA, this could seem like an intimidating task, but Chris jumped in with both feet and started to swim. From deep-depth grant research to find unique funding opportunities to securing thousands of dollars in grants, Chris was a crucial part of reaching our Phase 1 fundraising goal and setting the campaign up for continued future success. We will miss you on the Development Team, Chris, but cannot thank you enough for your dedicated service.” - Sarah Holcombe, Development Director

“Chris has been such an asset to both the Rosewood Restoration Program and Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation as a whole. Chris' fundraising achievements speak for themselves through the program's progress, but it should also be mentioned that Chris has been a crucial team player throughout his service and has had a hand in almost every program at The Parks Foundation.” - Elena Larsen, Wetland Restoration Program Director


Jacqui Dalton (Programs and Events Coordinator)

Jacqui leading interpretive hike at Oxbow Nature Study Area as part of our Discover Your Parks program.

“Jacqui has been the rock of the programming team and the past year would not have been nearly as successful without her. She has forged meaningful relationships within the community, our participants, and especially with TMPF. I can say without a doubt that our team will not be the same without her. Thanks for being such an incredible team member, you'll be missed by us all, including Rosie (my dog), because you always gave her the nicest pets (she says).” - Chantel Dominguez, Programs and Events Director


Rachel Carroll (Communications Coordinator)

Rachel (right) talking with a Summer Science Camper during a field trip.

“It’s hard to put into words how much Rachel has helped the communications team in the time that she’s been at TMPF. She was a VISTA during a time of transition, which is no easy task, and helped me get up to speed as comms manager. Rachel has been my right hand person the last six months, which is important because I am left handed. I’ll miss her dry sense of humor and excellent use of sarcasm. Thanks for absolutely killing it as a VISTA, you’re going to excel at whatever you decide to do next.” - Matt DeBray, Communications Manager

“Rachel was incredibly diligent and devoted throughout her service term, and it was so incredible to develop creative ideas and projects with such a passionate individual. Rachel is a student of the natural world and brought such vivid energy to the Parks Foundation from her very first post! I was so impressed with her blog about the connection between outer space and natural formations here in Reno. Rachel is truly a talented and versatile individual and I was so honored to serve alongside her during our time together!” - Karly Bristol, (previous) Operations and Communications Director


Come February 15 (their last day) Chris, Jacqui and Rachel will have collectively completed approximately 5267.25 service hours. These members have persevered through COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, ever-changing CDC guidelines, record-breaking wildfire smoke, and so much more. Facing each obstacle with patience and creativity, growing professionally and personally, and coming out of this year stronger than when they started. To say I’m impressed with all that they have accomplished this year is a massive understatement.

Thank you Chris, Jacqui and Rachel for all your capacity building efforts at TMPF and for making my service year such a memorable experience. Thank you for being the motivation behind my (admittedly, a little over-the-top) optimism. You’ve each reminded me, in different ways, that it is absolutely okay to not take things so seriously, and try to find the joy and fun in everything you do. It is entirely possible to make a difference in your community and have fun doing it! It was a pleasure getting to know you all as service members, and more importantly as friends. I can’t wait to see where your Life After AmeriCorps takes you, and all the incredible accomplishments you achieve!

For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA service and all AmeriCorps’s various programs, check out AmeriCorps’s website. For more information on serving an AmeriCorps VISTA service term with Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation, check out our Join the Team page.


About the Author

Sara is serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader at Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. After earning her BA in English Studies from Illinois State University, she became passionate about giving back to communities across the country. In 2019, Sara served as a Corps Member with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and even her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. She also served as an AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in 2020. She is absolutely thrilled to serve the Reno community and expand her explorations to the Western Region of the US!


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