By Charles Parker
Aging Matters In Brevard, in partnership with United Way of Brevard, has received a grant for nine VISTA positions beginning immediately. VISTA positions are funded through AmeriCorps, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
According to Heather Dimmig of Aging Matters in Brevard, five of the VISTA positions will serve Brevard’s aging population.
“We are looking for individuals 18 and older with strong communication, organizational, and leadership skills who want to make a difference in Brevard County. We want to build capacity within our agency so that we can serve more individuals in the community. The VISTAs will do this by recruiting and training volunteers who will provide the direct services and by developing a community outreach plan and collaborative partnerships with other community agencies.”
One will serve with the Veterans Driving Veterans Project. The goal of the project is to increase low income veterans’ access to health care by providing them with safe, dependable transportation to the VA Outpatient Clinic in Viera.
Another VISTA will be instrumental in expanding the Meals on Wheels program in order to provide low income food insecure seniors age 60 and older with a hot, nutritious meal five days a week through expansion of the Meals on Wheels program.
The third VISTA will develop the Home Safety and Accessibility Project. The goal of this project is to provide low income seniors age 60 and over with access to housing-related services that will enable them to remain in their own homes.
Two VISTAs will be instrumental in developing and expanding the GRAND Parenting Again Program. This program provides access to services for low income grandparents age 55 and over in Brevard County who are formally or informally raising their minor grandchildren.
One will focus on aiding grandparents in applying for ACCESS Florida Program funding through the Department of Children and Families and health insurance through Florida Kidcare. Another will develop a program that will provide no-cost or low-cost tutoring for those grandchildren.
Liz Lee of the United Way of Brevard said that four of the positions will be dedicated to local hunger and homeless initiatives.
“One of our projects dealing with hunger is our backpack program and we hope these employees will help to expand, build capacity, and support it. In this program, teachers identify students who potentially need food. We then provide the student with a backpack of food for the weekend. It is our goal to have this program in 20 schools with high “free and reduced lunch” populations by the end of next school year,” Lee said.
“Another area these VISTA workers will help is with our ID program in our local homelessness initiative,” Lee added.
VISTAs dedicate a year of full-time service to develop and implement projects with an anti-poverty focus. During the year of service, the VISTAs receive a monthly living allowance, healthcare benefits, childcare assistance, student loan forbearance or deferment, a relocation allowance, the choice of an end-of-service stipend or an education award, service-related mileage reimbursement, and valuable training.
To learn more about these positions, please visit www.AgingMattersBrevard.org. To apply, please visit https://my.americorps.gov and search AmeriCorps VISTA positions in Florida.