Welcoming elected officials to our VISTA programs

In Minnesota, we are lucky to have passionate, engaged elected officials who partner with us to protect and strengthen AmeriCorps VISTA programs like Summer Reads and Literacy Leadership. Special thanks to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Senator John Marty, and Amy Johnson Korba from US Senator Tina Smith’s office for visiting our VISTA programs in action at Open Door Learning Center-Arlington Hills in July 2019.

Open Door Arlington Hills is one of six learning centers operated by Minnesota Literacy Council that offers classes for adults including ESL, GED, citizenship, computers and job readiness. The Arlington Hills site serves learners on St Paul’s East Side and additionally features a literacy-rich preschool program for children ages three to five.

During the summer, the addition of Summer Reads VISTAs enables parents to persist in their own education so that they continue to attend classes while their preschoolers and elementary-age children enjoy fun summer learning with VISTAs. A current year-long Literacy Leadership VISTA project with Open Door aims to diversify the volunteer base and create pathways for adult learners to become volunteers and interns in preparation for careers.

Anna Stolte, Open Door VISTA who served her second term with Summer Reads in 2019, is a Music Education and Spanish major who is aspiring to become a teacher. She shares, “This year, my most valuable experience as a Summer Reads VISTA has been learning more about how to work with English Language Learners. I am continuing to learn how I can make more inclusive learning environments for all children.”

Our special visitors read books for story time. The children presented songs they have been learning this summer. Children and adult learners got to meet their legislators. Literacy Leader VISTAs Marina Mossaad (2017-19) and Hiba Al Hasnawi (2019-20) led a tour of the school. And our VISTAs shared a bit about how service has been meaningful to them.

Congresswoman McCollum even gave us a nice shout-out on Facebook and Twitter. We are grateful for the support and partnership of Congresswoman McCollum, Senator Marty and Senator Smith with national service and literacy!

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