News 12 This Morning / Friday, June 29, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gaining job skills, earning money and giving back to the community is the premise behind the AmeriCorps summer VISTA program. The nine-week program is keeping some college students busy through summer.
When Airial Lilly signed on to be a summer VISTA volunteer, she wanted a peek into the real world of toddlers, education and early learning.
"I don't mind waking up 7 in the morning and leaving at 4 to do something I really care about," Lilly said.
The summer VISTA program placed her at the Family Y's Child Development Center in Augusta.
"This program helped me make a decision on where I wanted to be," Lilly said.
Karen McConnell, the center's director, explained,"She's going to take home a wealth of knowledge -- is this where she needs to be? Does she love it?"
The number of summer VISTAs like Lilly increased this year, all of them placed at various nonprofit agencies to support summer learning programs for young children.
"This one child couldn't get the links together, I was like you put this and pull," Lilly explained. "One kid came back and said, 'Look Ms. Airial, I did it!'"
It's those moments that put a smile on Lilly's face. Her extra hands in the classroom help this center save on resources, too.
"Anything we need, a teacher needs, go get this go get that, she can be that person," McConnell said. "That's been a big help to us because we haven't had to bring on added staff."
"Just the smile on their face knowing they accomplished something, I was like this is definitely what I want to do," Lilly said.
She's hoping her summer of working in the real world leads to more work experience after college. This is the first time for this center to take on summer VISTAs. It's the sixth year the United Way is sponsoring the program. In those six years they've brought in $3.1 million into the community through service projects and volunteers.
You can visit this website to learn more about becoming a VISTA.