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Tag Archives: VISTA

Forming Volunteer Systems

by Katie Grills, Community Relations VISTA

It starts with a simple phone call or email.

TAP Volunteer Annie Hsu (left) and Katie Grills, TAP' AmeriCorps VISTA (right)

I might be calling a reliable volunteer to help out with a data entry project, or I might ask a local business owner if they would like to donate a gift card to acknowledge a volunteer’s dedicated service. Sometimes that contact leads to hearing “yes, I would love to help you.” Other times I am not as lucky. I track these contacts in spreadsheets, email, and in SalesForce, our data tracking system. I log the volunteer hours, keep records of in-kind donations, and send thank you letters.

Whether I am planning a large community event like Theatre Action Project at the Zilker Park Kite Festival  or simply seeking out a volunteer to help us organize our classroom supplies, I strive to keep best practices in mind like the ones listed above.

Best practices are guidelines that employees in various fields strive to apply to their everyday business lives. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I am attempting to form volunteer systems for that work for creative minds while keeping abreast of the standards that other successful organizations practice. Serving an arts-centered organization presents its own unique set of tracking and acknowledgement challenges. Arts administration industry standards are a great starting point, though, and it is my goal to embed these practices into the systems I am developing.

As I start into the second half of my year of service with TAP, I’m proud to say that we’re well on our way to having these systems in place.

P.S.: I am in love with fashion blogger Gabi Fresh big curls. I hope to see you at TAP’s Big Hair Country Fair on March 24th. It will be a fun night benefiting Theatre Action Project. For tickets, visit: TAP Big Hair.

Creating Art with a Purpose

by Erik Weasenforth, Marketing Associate VISTA

I’m Erik Weasenforth, the new Marketing Associate VISTA for Theatre Action Project (TAP). I’ve always had a passion for creating art with a purpose, so joining AmeriCorps VISTA for Theatre Action Project excited me at the opportunity to exercise my creativity and artistic skills to help communities in need. In May of 2011, I graduated from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) with a degree in Computer Graphics Technology with an emphasis in animation, and a minor in Art & Design. My goals for this year are to increase TAP’s presence in the community through social media, our website, and print, but I also want to incorporate more video and animation into the mix.

Last week I went to Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) in Albuquerque, NM to become an AmeriCorps VISTA where I had somewhat of a revelation. I learned many facts about poverty that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t become a VISTA. It really gave me a whole new perspective on how much of an impact I’ll be having while working at TAP. I also met a lot of other people who came from completely different backgrounds who were all there for the common purpose: Fighting Poverty with Passion. I’ve moved around a lot, having lived in Illinois, California, Virginia, Texas, and spending four years in Indiana for college, so I love meeting people of different backgrounds. I had a great time at PSO, and I believe this year will be a great one for me as I grow with TAP in the great city of Austin, Texas.

Yesterday I volunteered at the Zilker Park Kite Festival in Austin, which was awesome! So many people came and got involved. I’m new to Austin, and I feel like this city is more active and connected than any other city I’ve been to. Every day it seems like I’ll talk to complete strangers, whether it’s at Zilker Park looking at birds or on the bus into the city. I feel welcome in Austin and at Theatre Action Project. 2012 is already off to a great start to my year of AmeriCorps service, and I look forward to the accomplishments to come.

P.S. My favorite hairstyle is Will Smith’s from Fresh Prince. See you at TAP’s Big Hair Country Fair on March 24th at the Salt Lick Pavilion! To buy tickets visit: TAP Big Hair. Proceeds benefit Theatre Action Project.

Thank you TAP for an Amazing Year

by Amanda Davis, Marketing Associate VISTA

photo by Twin Sisters Photography

It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed here at Theatre Action Project, and that today I must take my leave to other adventures in life.

A year ago, I began a journey in AmeriCorps and became the Marketing Associate VISTA here at TAP. To be honest, I was scared about the steps that it was going to take to be an AmeriCorps member. I was a bit timid and shy at first. I had just moved to a place where I knew no one and taken a job that was sure to be a learning experience, but as time wore on that timidness soon came to shed and Read the rest of this entry

Recruiting Volunteers – The Creative Process

by Katie Grills, Community Relations VISTA

Don’t you just love Google Doodles? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this one from Valentine’s Day. While charming and a great way to celebrate Love on Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t help but look at this cute, creative device as a metaphor for recruiting volunteers.

In the world of non-profit organizations, recruiting volunteers is much like finding and wooing your perfect sweetheart. Plan one might seem absolutely brilliant. Surely it will bring in droves of committed, talented volunteers who are in love with the work you do. That witty posting that you put on every volunteer posting site imaginable will break servers because the whole city will flock to it at once! The emails you have sent out to prospective volunteers will be responded, and your inbox will overwhelm you! And don’t even think about being able to answer all of those phone calls. Read the rest of this entry

February Skill Share

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA

After School I had the pleasure to host the first Skill Share of the spring semester here at the Theatre Action Project office on February 8th. Skill Shares are an excellent opportunity for our Teaching Artists (TA’s) to share their talents with their peers. Our February Skill Share was one of our best yet!

We started the evening with Benjamin Taylor, one of our TA’s at Creedmoor Elementary in Del Valle. Ben has taken TAP’s new mission to inspire our students as creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders to heart in his classroom. In TAP After-School we call these the “4 Cs” and Ben is truly a 4C Teaching Artist. He manages to teach his kindergarten students what courageous allies and critical thinkers are; no small feat with young students. Whether they’re learning that courageous ally means “to be a good friend” or critiquing each others drawings as creative artists, they’re always using their critical thinking hats, which Ben graciously modeled for us. Read the rest of this entry

It’s almost Kite Festival Time – Volunteer with TAP

by Katie Grills, Community Relations VISTA

Look at the calendar. If you’re generally living in the southeastern United States, particularly in Austin, stepping outside might make you question the accuracy of your ability to recall the proper date.

So much for the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil for Austinites, Spring, it seems, has sprung.

Get into the Spring spirit and sign up to volunteer with Theatre Action Project at the Zilker Park Kite Festival today! We need around 60 more volunteers right now to make our tent the best attraction in the park on March 4.

Shifts are from 9am-1pm, 12:30pm-3:30pm, and 3:00pm-5pm. We are in need of people who are excited to paint faces, “bark” at the crowd to bring them our way, help keep the operations of our shows in the tent running smoothly, and more.

If you’d like to go ahead and register as a volunteer, please fill out our registration form. You will be contacted shortly about your assigned shift time and more.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

We absolutely can’t wait to see you there!

Just Begin

by Amanda Davis, Marketing Associate VISTA

Reading quotes is one of my favorite activities to do on a daily basis. There is always a chance that I run across one that inspires me. Today I ran across a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that really struck a chord.

“Whatever you do – or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”

Reading through this quote makes me realize that Theatre Action Project really has followed this boldness to be the organization it is today. At the end of every month, I take statistics of our social media coverage and get to see our growth. I am always in awe of how much we can take our coverage out into the world through the web.

I am now entering my final month as an AmeriCorps VISTA at TAP, and these last few statistics will be some of the best yet, I just know it. Help us to reach a goal of making a 1,000 fans on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog to receive updates. I would love to see  us really expand our reach and continue to grow after I leave.