Second Year Love Your Block VISTAs

Love Your Block Phoenix VISTAs

Greetings Love Your Block Community,

We want to take a moment to introduce ourselves. We are the new AmeriCorps VISTAs, Alyssa Hagerbrant and Aine Fitzgerald Coleman, serving in year two of the Cities of Service Love Your Block program in the Neighborhood Services Department in Phoenix City Hall. In the second year of the Love Your Block program, we will be building on the foundation set by the first year VISTAs, Hayley and Helen. This year, the Love Your Block program will award 5 community groups in low-income areas of Phoenix $1,000 mini-grants. The awarded community groups can use the funds to make the changes they wish to see in their neighborhoods through volunteer-driven, sustainable revitalization projects. Our grant application will be available in early October and we encourage all interested groups and/or individuals to reach out as early as possible.

We began our VISTA service term this past June. On our first day of work, we quickly discovered that we have a lot in common! We both graduated this past May from small liberal arts colleges in the Northeast with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Environmental Studies, studied abroad in Panama, and even grew up less than 30 miles away from each other.

Alyssa: I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and lived in Saratoga Springs, NY before I moved to Phoenix in June. In May 2016, I graduated from Skidmore College with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Theater Design. I enjoy drawing, ecology, socially responsible design, and being a fur-mom (aka I’m in love with my kitten). I grew up dreaming of being an actress and seriously considered entering into a performance career. It wasn’t until college when I discovered my interest in social justice and my underlying fascination with understanding others not quite like myself. I ended up choosing AmeriCorps VISTA because I hope to make a positive social and environmental impact, and this program allows me to gain experience collaborating with the private, nonprofit, and government sectors to achieve that goal. This year I aim to use my design background and my liberal arts education to strengthen the Love Your Block program and to build capacity in Phoenix’s communities.

Aine (Anya): I grew up in Huntington Station, NY. I recently graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in History. I love learning about the history of urban planning, architecture, and the construction of America’s built environment. I also enjoy dancing, singing, reading, and gardening. Although I loved my time at Bates, I, like many other liberal arts graduates, departed feeling uncertain about my academic and professional strengths. I knew what I was passionate about, but was unsure where I fit in as I entered the workforce. I signed up for AmeriCorps VISTA hoping that it would give me the opportunity to explore my strengths and, at the same time, gain invaluable experience in a professional setting. This year, as a Cities of Service Love Your Block VISTA in the City of Phoenix’s Neighborhood Services Department, I am excited to work with neighborhood groups and other local stakeholders to promote collaborative and bottom-up change in the city. I hope that Alyssa and I will contribute to the larger trend in city government that aims to build grass-roots neighborhood change by connecting government resources with community members’ knowledge of and passion for their local neighborhoods.

We both are thrilled to work together this year and are excited to take on the second round of the Love Your Block program. We are also looking forward to building relationships with neighbors and gaining project management and volunteer coordination experience. We hope that our unfamiliarity with the City of Phoenix will not hinder our abilities to make connections with residents and we hope that the communities we serve will share our enthusiasm for the Love Your Block grant.

For more information about Love Your Block and/or to see if your neighborhood is within our boundary, check out hpnphx.org/cities-of-service/. Be on the lookout for the application release in Early October.

Please contact us at aine.coleman@phoenix.gov and alyssa.hagerbrant@phoenix.gov.

 

Best,

Alyssa Hagerbrant and
Aine Fitzgerald Coleman
AmeriCorps VISTAs, City of Phoenix
Love Your Block, Cities of Service