AmeriCorps VISTA Intern Volunteer shares Experience
More than 46 million Americans live in poverty. By serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA, you will help those in disadvantaged communities turn their dreams into realities. The skills and passions of over 7,000 Americans support community efforts to overcome poverty.
In the local community of Cherry Hill, the spotlight is shone on Jordan Wohl of JFCS, who has served for the past year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. By sharing his experience here on our blog,he hopes others will consider becoming a VISTA intern for JFCS, which is currently looking for candidates.
A recent graduate from the University of Delaware, class of 2015, he was looking for an experience before directly entering medical school. Having grown up in the Cherry Hill community, he couldn’t imagine a better way than volunteering through JFCS as a return to his roots.
Wohl, who actively been involved in JFCS for many years, found out about the AmeriCorps VISTA program while volunteering through BookMates. BookMates, a program established by JCRC, is an interfaith literacy program that provides services to Title I elementary schools in low and moderate-income communities throughout southern New Jersey. He credits his volunteering with BookMates as having lead him to one of the best experiences of his life.
Over the past year as a VISTA intern, he has gained great experience in varying fields of expertise. Grant writing, working closely with the Goodman Holocaust Museum, located at the JCC in Cherry Hill, and diverse multimedia projects name a few of his successes. Gail Belfer, Director of Senior Services at JFCS, states, “As most of the survivors are now in their 80’s and 90’s, the VISTA is part of the last generation to hear first-hand from the Holocaust survivor population, their incredible life stories and experiences. For Jordan, and for our first VISTA Joyce, one of the most special outcomes of the VISTA experience has been to bear witness for many of the Holocaust survivors and being able to carry on the legacy for future generations.”
Having led three different sessions for Holocaust survivors, just in the month of May at Lions Gate, he has gained a deeper perspective of his outlook on life. “Cafe Europa has become a larger part of myself in a couple of ways. First, it has made me appreciate getting together with my friends more, especially ones I see rarely. Most of our survivors look forward to Cafe Europa every month as an opportunity to see their friends. Cafe Europa has showed me how to appreciate time with friends and family more appropriately.”
VISTA has been on the forefront of ending poverty in America for over 50 years. Introduced by President Kennedy to Congress in 1963, its best-known anti-poverty programs include Head Start and Credit Unions. Founded in 1965 as a national service program, it was later incorporated in 1993 into the AmeriCorps network.
Members make a yearly, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project, nonprofit organization, or public agency. By focusing their efforts on organizations that fight illiteracy, low-income communities receive the assistance that they need. Belfer adds, ‘The VISTA program offers a unique and special opportunity with Jewish Family and Children’s Service and the Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center.”
Whol largely credits his past year as a VISTA intern as greater shaping him as an individual. “As I will be going to medical school locally, it has given me a better idea and feel of the community around me. Even though I have lived in the area for my entire life, I believe that this year of service gave me a better feel of this community that will allow me to become a more caring and empathetic physician.” As he looks forward to the future and what medicine holds, he is cognizant of working on a team with other physicians, as he the team undertaking skills he has learned from working for GHMEC/JCRC and JFCS will be invaluable in asset.
Hoping to continue on the VISTA intern legacy, for those interested, contact Gail Belfer, who can be reached via e-mail and telephone at firstname.lastname@example.org and 856-424-1333