Special to the Bulletin

Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for skilled, self-motivated individuals to serve as AmeriCorps/ VISTA members in its offices across North and West Texas.

The program is an opportunity for qualified individuals over 18 to “make a difference and provide service to America,” a news release states.

It could be the right opportunity for:

• An upcoming college graduate

• A current student who is finding that fewer jobs or intern opportunities are available

• A senior citizen who wants to use his or her experience and have an impact on people’s lives

• A working professional who is displaced by the current economy and is looking for a focus on “giving back.”

Through the AmeriCorps/VISTA program, as a volunteer you commit to serving one year at Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas, working at least 32 hours a week. A person cannot be in school nor have another job.

In exchange for their volunteer service, the Corporation for National Service pays each member a living stipend, medical coverage, deferment of student loans for the year, and $4,725 towards school loans or for future schooling. Those who do not have a need for help with loans receive an additional $1,200 at the end of their VISTA year. Most significantly, volunteers will be able to add a year of experience with a national organization to their resumes along with their VISTA experience.

Volunteers will develop leadership, marketing and networking skills while supporting an organization that makes a difference in a child’s life through mentoring.

VISTA is an acronym for Volunteers in Service to America. VISTA was established through the Corporation for National Service as a stateside Peace Corps opportunity for those committed to serving their country by serving others. President Obama recently signed the Serve America Act that will expand the number of opportunities for students, seniors, and individuals over 18 that want to give back to their country.

The VISTA project at Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas could include one or more of a variety of areas such as:

• Recruiting volunteers and children for the mentoring program

• Supporting the matches through regular contacts and match activities

• Helping with event planning, public relations and marketing

• Assisting with fund development skills and grant writing

• helping to build community partnerships.

Candidates must be self-starters, love working with people, be highly organized, have good leadership skills, have strong communication skills (both verbal and written), be computer proficient (MS Office) and have the ability and means to travel in the North Texas area. Selected VISTA members must also be willing and able to work flexible schedules including some weekends.

Qualified candidates can go online to my.americorps.gov and complete the application. Select Big Brothers Big Sisters of North/West Texas as a program where you would like to serve. For more information call Janet Ardoyno, the VISTA Project Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas at 888-887-2447.

Offices where VISTA members can serve include Lamar, Grayson, Denton, Collin, Dallas, Tarrant, Ellis, Wichita, Brown, Taylor and Tom Green counties.