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Tag Archives: AmeriCorps VISTA

Meet Corinna Archer

by Corinna Archer, Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

Hi, my name is Corinna Archer and I am so excited to be joining the Creative Action family as the new Programs Associate VISTA! While I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first day (besides asking a million questions), everyone has been so welcoming and helped me feel right at home in my new role in the office for the next year. When I started as a volunteer at Creative Action in 2011, I was so excited to find a meaningful way to serve my hometown community through my skills making costumes and working with youth that I developed during college as a dramaturgy major at Carnegie Mellon University. One year of AmeriCorps service with Communities In Schools of Central Texas and many volunteer hours with Creative Action later, I have deepened my relationship with Creative Action as a VISTA where I can share my passion for the arts and serve the community by helping give youth access to empowering creative learning opportunities.

I just returned from a fantastic pre-service orientation in Dallas where I met so many inspiring VISTAs, and learned about the history and mission of Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) and how VISTAs fight poverty by supporting and strengthening non-profit organizations around the country. While learning about the variety of ways VISTAs help to combat poverty by developing community resources, I was reminded of the “4 C’s” that Creative Action programs inspire students to become: creative artists, critical thinkers, courageous allies, and confident leaders. While all of the VISTAs I met at PSO were focused on addressing different community needs through their service with all kinds of amazing organizations, as VISTAs we will each embody the”4 Cs” throughout our year of service as we solve problems with creativity and compassion, engage volunteers in meaningful service opportunities, and stand up against injustices in the community.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA I am proud to serve as a role model of the “4 C’s” in my community by supporting the mission of Creative Action to activate the academic, social and emotional development of youth through the creative arts, and I can’t wait to see what wonderful experiences this year will bring!

Hard to Say Goodbye

by Katie Grills, Community Relations AmeriCorps VISTA

Culture, language, and the intangible things that make a place what it is are constant preoccupations for me as a writer. These interests also make it challenging for me to let go of the experiences I have in life. In other words, it’s hard to say goodbye.

My time as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Theatre Action Project (TAP) will always populate my imagination as a time of color and joy—a place where good-willed artists come together with the intention to see the world changed for the better, and actually see their wildest dreams for the next generation come true.

Here are some of the amazing things that have happened this year that I will never forget:

  • The nearly 2,700 hours of time that volunteers selflessly gave
  • The smiles and huge hearts of more than 200 people who were compelled to pass through our doors to give freely of their time and talents
  • The endless well of wisdom that I had to draw from in our staff, and especially from Mary Alice, my wonderful supervisor and dear friend.
  • The support and warmth of the Austin community
  • The unbridled creative spirit of young people

I am forever grateful for the work that TAP does, and I will continue living and working for their mission to develop creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders wherever I go. My next step is a move to Atlanta, GA, where I hope to continue cultivating a career in the nonprofit sector. I want to continue being an advocate for the arts, and especially for the crucial part that creativity plays in the development of the lives of young people.

Many thanks to the TAP community for carving out a place in my heart and mind that will stay there for years to come.

AmeriCorps Works Video Contest

by Erik Weasenforth, Marketing Associate VISTA

This past month, I worked on a video project to submit to the 2012 AmeriCorps Video Contest. The theme for the contest is “AmeriCorps Works” so I tried to communicate:

  • The diversity of people who work for AmeriCorps and their effect on  their communities
  • Who we serve
  • The variety of locations served in communities across America (including different cities and variety of organizations being helped)

I ended up having Mary Alice Carnes, my AmeriCorps VISTA supervisor and fellow Theatre Action Project (TAP) coworker, give a great quick speech in my video on how the AmeriCorps VISTA program helps us out at TAP.

Public voting is currently open from now until September 1st, and I’d appreciate any votes to help me win this competition.

To vote, follow this link: Click vote, fill out the form and it will send you an email to confirm your vote. Make sure to confirm your vote or it won’t become official!

Here’s the video:

I’d like to thank everyone who was in my video as well as a special thanks to Lance McNeil, a VISTA at Foundation Communities, for helping me with great ideas and for creating the music for the video.

National Service Week: Celebrating Our Volunteers

by Katie Grills, Community Relations AmeriCorps VISTA

Annie Hsu, TAP Volunteer

I had an argument with my Humanities professor a few years ago. I’d trudged through much of the other 2 semesters of this required course, but my last semester was different. We had a professor that challenged us to apply philosophical ideas and principles to our own lives. For my final paper, I posited that my generation was more compelled to rise above selfish ambition than any other in recent memory, and that for every bit of negative press that existed, there was a positive action happening that countered it.

He used the Socratic method to challenge my opinion in the hope of strengthening my argument. “What about the growing disparity between the rich and poor? Is that not a reflection of the drive towards greed? If you believe that there is this huge movement towards serving others, then why do so many people characterize modern youth as lazy bums?” After talking over these arguments, doing some soul searching, and making a few edits for sound logic, I got an A on the paper and the rights to say I successfully rid my professor of any doubt that we are living in a time of giving.

Eraina Porras, Spring Break Camp Intern Volunteer

As I celebrate National Service Week here at Theatre Action Project (TAP), I have thousands of reasons to believe that my argument still rings true. They are:

  • The hours of time that our volunteers of every age have selflessly given to help youth in the Austin community (1,215 since August 2012 and counting, to be exact);
  • The smiles that our teaching artists and volunteers see at our after school programming; and 
  • The thousands of hours a month that TAP spends in classrooms across Central Texas to help our youth become creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders in their communities.

    (l-r) Emily Watkins and Sharon Chin, Texas Tower PR volunteering with Tbeatre Action Project

Those thousands of TAP achievements are but a drop in the bucket of all the good that happens in our nation every day. We’re proud to do our part.

Elizabeth Gonzalez, TAP Summer Camp Assistant and Junior League Volunteer

We will celebrate the achievements and service of our amazing volunteers and committed community partners on Tuesday, April 24 at TAP’s Spring Open House. Please join us for rewards and fellowship with those who are keeping the light of service and positive action alive. Email me at to RSVP, or visit our Facebook Event Page to RSVP.

Start at the End

by Amanda Davis, Guest Blogger

Andrew Stanton illustrating WALL-E. Photo: LA Times

Ever wanted to know the best way to tell a story creatively? Start at the end. Andrew Stanton, Pixar filmmaker for the great films like Toy Story and WALL-E, started his TEDTalk by explaining that he was going to tell you how he got to where he was today on that stage, but wanted to start at the end. One thing that we must remember when telling a story creatively is the ability to capture the audience, to really pull someone into the story, to make them care. By doing this not only make the story something that progresses forward and keep someone’s attention, but it also gives the opportunity for the story to be remembered and passed on.

Theatre Action Project, as a non-profit arts organization, has the ability to tell these stories through the heart and mouths of the children that they teach. They take the opportunity to creatively form a story that makes you care about the cause and the minds of the children that participate. They do this through images, performances and even through the ordinary words of life. Take the time to appreciate a good story, and tell one of your own. As Andrew Stanton said, “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.” Tell your story to inspire, to create, lead your story to the understanding that it matters.

Amanda Davis is a former AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who served Theatre Action Project from 2011 to 2012.

3M and STEM vs STEAM

by Katie Grills, Community Relations VISTA

The concept of STEM vs. STEAM is a high topic of interest to us here at Theatre Action Project. We firmly believe that the arts belong right there beside Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Our MLK Day of Service at Austins 3M Innovation Center opened the TAP VISTA’s eyes to just how much the creative process is used in manufacturing basic products needed in our everyday lives.

From collaborating with staff to figure out the best way to convert voltage to household safe levels to figuring out the best adhesive for various types of tape, the 3M staff comes together to create and innovate every day.

While understanding of the basic STEM principles are of utmost importance to scientists and engineers at 3M, the reminder to “create” is written on the wall as a reminder of what must happen to provide the next generation with a brighter, better place to live.

Gifts from the Heart

by Amanda Davis, Marketing Associate VISTA

One of my favorite things about the holidays is getting to see my family and give them the gifts that I have created with my own two hands. Every year since I can remember I have made some kind handmade gift for my parents, even a few friends have received some over the years. In the past few years, I have been learning how to up cycle (create things from many already made items) as well as make many gifts in a frugal way. I have taken apart old calendars and made them new again, crocheted scarfs, blankets and hats, and painted many gifts. I find that sometimes the best gifts in life are the ones you can create and give to others, gifts from the heart. Read the rest of this entry