AmeriCorps branch will serve nonprofits in area | SteamboatToday.com

AmeriCorps branch will serve nonprofits in area

Mike McCollum

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps employees, from left, Melissa Calhoon, Libby Foster, Colleen Lyon, Erin Murphy and Sheila Wright gather for a photo in the organization's offices at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs on Thursday morning.

Steamboat Springs — Alex Flynn is no stranger to helping those in need. — Alex Flynn is no stranger to helping those in need.

— Alex Flynn is no stranger to helping those in need.

As an AmeriCorps volunteer in Fort Collins schools, she worked one-on-one with at-risk youth. With that kind of experience under her belt, and after graduating last week from the University of Northern Colorado, Flynn could have landed a teaching position just about anywhere. She instead chose to continue her AmeriCorps work in Steamboat Springs.

“I was in a critical-needs school working with (English Language Learners),” she said Thursday. “I received an e-mail informing me about the position in Steamboat, and I got to thinking about it.”

Flynn is the first AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America worker to accept one of two positions advertised by area nonprofits. VISTA volunteers work one-year stints trying to increase the ability for low-income populations, and the nonprofit organizations that serve them, to solve community problems.

“These VISTA volunteers are not just paper pushers, they really have a pretty important job description with quite a bit of responsibility and opportunity for professional development,” said Libby Foster, executive director of Partners in Routt County. “I’m hoping Alex can help us develop a corporate volunteer program and possibly a corporate giving or sponsorship program, among other duties.”

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VISTA volunteers work in areas including fund development, program development and organizational infrastructure.

Flynn is splitting time between Foster and Colleen Lyon, director of the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition. Lyon tasked Flynn with beefing up the nonprofit’s evaluation programs.

“It’s going to come down to developing a better evaluation program by developing a better support base and coordinating among volunteers,” Lyon said.

Flynn said she is used to working with kids, but moving to more of an administrative role is an exciting new challenge.

“We are all working for the same goal anyway,” she said.

Foster said Flynn will be a huge addition to helping determine the nonprofit’s measurable outcomes.

“The Routt County United Way and our funders want to know where their money that is being given produces results, and that all our efforts are fruitful,” she said.

Sheila Wright, program director for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, advertised for the second VISTA volunteer, but has yet to find a suitable candidate.

“We are hoping to find a VISTA volunteer that will enhance our technology component,” she said. “We are hoping this person will create technology systems to enhance our recruitment process and also our internal communications.”

Photography, Web site development and video-editing skills are some of the tools Wright hopes to find in a worker.

“It’s a really exciting position, and we are hoping to find someone in that skill set to work for a $865 living stipend and a $300 housing allowance,” she said. “At the end of their term of service, they will be issued a $4,700 education award to continue education or pay off student loans.”

VISTA workers do not need to be a current AmeriCorps member, but the position will require a training period.

“I won’t be trained until February, so I’ll be teaching snowboarding on the mountain until then,” Flynn said. “It’s another bonus of volunteering in Steamboat.”

For more information about applying for the VISTA program with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, contact Wright at 879-2135.

-To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com