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Fairbanks volunteer service program recruits summer positions

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:02 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - AmeriCorps VISTAs, or Volunteers in Service to America, sign up for a year fighting poverty in communities across the nation, including Fairbanks.

For a small stipend, they serve at non-profits and other organizations, helping their hosts expand their reach and help more people in the community.

According to Fairbanks VISTA Leader Kenzley Defler, “Right now we have 12 full-year VISTA positions. They’re at organizations including United Way, Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, the Re-Entry Coalition, Thrivalaska, the Door... All of our VISTAs are really motivated and here for the right reasons. They want to give back to the community.”

VISTA Shea Brenneman has served with United Way of the Tanana Valley since March of last year. “I had three days around the community before everything shut down, so I kind of slid under the door right before everything shut down,” she said.

Brenneman’s mission is to create a Volunteer Action Center for the organization. “Fairbanks is a very unique community... Everyone here is really quirky and has their own ways of life and ways of contributing to their community.”

Brenneman serves alongside Timea Renfrow, a newer recruit who started in February. Renfrow said, “I’m here working on donor retention as well as marketing, so I’m here really focusing on our social media and outreach and helping our organizations get their platform out and promote more of what they do for the community.”

Renfrow was new to Fairbanks’ signature low temperatures when she arrived. “Getting into the community was fine. It was once I got here and it was -29° that I kind of started questioning my common sense.”

Defler came to Fairbanks to serve in August of last year. She says VISTA service is an opportunity to gain new skills. “A lot of VISTAs serve in between undergrad and grad school, or as a summer between college.”

In Fairbanks, VISTA sites include Thrivalaska, the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition, the Noel Wien Library and the Northern Hope Center.

More information about the program can be found on the Fairbanks VISTA website.

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