New VISTA promotes campus growth through volunteerism

When it comes to outreach and service learning, Penn State Brandywine is proud to be a campus that values and supports those initiatives. Now, with the arrival of Amanda Moser, the campus will have a full-time staff person dedicated to coordinating and strengthening existing programs, as well as launching new ones.

Moser, a 2009 graduate of Susquehanna University, is the campus' first-ever AmeriCorps Pennsylvania Campus Compact (PACC) Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) member, and will be working full-time on the campus for a year.

The PACC VISTA program "seeks to develop and support community service, service-learning and civic engagement programs at higher education institutions by placing AmeriCorps VISTA members at colleges and universities across Pennsylvania," according to the Pennsylvania Campus Compact Web site.

PACC VISTA members create connections between the campus and community through projects involving tutoring, mentoring and strengthening volunteerism. Among their duties are volunteer recruitment, training and consulting with campus and community stakeholders to identify and address critical community needs. Currently, there are 25 PACC VISTA members working at campuses across Pennsylvania.

Moser, who started her yearlong position with the campus Aug. 15, will help organize campus efforts to alleviate poverty through programs designed to educate and improve literacy. The goal is to build lasting relationships between the campus and several low-income communities (Upper Darby, Chester, and Overbrook) through a variety of literacy initiatives.

Prior to her arrival on campus, Moser spent a week in Philadelphia over the summer in training with other PACC VISTA members. There will be additional training workshops throughout the year.

Although she's new to the campus, Moser is not new to community engagement. When she was in seventh grade, she joined the service club at Garnet Valley Middle School participating in a recycling program, volunteering at the Special Olympics and working with visually impaired adults at the Overbrook School for the Blind.

Moser continued volunteering throughout high school, and in college she was the Scholar in Service to Pennsylvania with the Center for Civic Engagement at Susquehanna. This position involved working with WomenSpeak, the Disaster Response Team and Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition.

"Susquehanna gave me many opportunities to participate in community service," she said. "As a VISTA with Penn State Brandywine, I will be able to use the skills I have acquired to work with the campus and community members to implement sustainable literacy programs."

During her year with the campus, Moser hopes to engage as many people as possible across the campus and across the curriculum.

"I'd like to take community service to another level and find ways to keep it viable and sustainable," she said.

Moser is still getting acclimated to the campus and her new position, but so far she said everything has been going smoothly.

"Everyone has been very welcoming," she said. "I am encouraged to find that so many people share my enthusiasm. It's great that so many faculty are interested in finding ways to incorporate these initiatives into their curricula."

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Last Updated September 08, 2009