The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has utilized AmeriCorps VISTA members to help create and enhance programs for more than a decade. Initially, VISTAs were focused on the Legal Advocacy Project. In recent years, ANDVSA and its member programs have utilized VISTAs in primary prevention program development. VISTAs have worked on a wide range of projects within prevention including youth engagement efforts, implementing the Fourth R curriculum, and social norm campaigns. Recently, the Corporation for National and Community Service has recognized the importance of primary prevention programming and because of this, intends to expand the ANDVSA VISTA Program in the coming years.
What is AmeriCorps VISTA?
AmeriCorps VISTA is one of three branches of AmeriCorps, a national service program through the United States government agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service. What distinguishes AmeriCorps VISTA from the other two branches of AmeriCorps (State & National and the National Civilian Community Corps-NCCC) is that AmeriCorps VISTA members engage in service activities that build capacity by developing sustainable structures and programs in the organizations and communities in which they serve with the end goal of ending poverty in America. VISTA members do not replace a normal staff member; rather, they do supplemental work that would not or could not have been done otherwise. Most AmeriCorps VISTA terms last for one year, during which members gain personal and professional experiences not found in the typical entry-level job.
There are currently three VISTA members serving with the ANDVSA VISTA program. To learn more about their work, see the descriptions below:
Violence Prevention Specialist (in Sitka)
Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) is a local domestic violence shelter in Sitka, AK which provides services to victims of violence, promotes healthy relationships and respectful communities across Alaska. SAFV has been developing and implementing prevention programs that build resiliency and promote diversity, respect and gender equity. The VISTA will be instrumental in increasing prevention programs, with a focus on parent and male engagement programs. The VISTA will participate in the local prevention coalition; work with schools and agencies to implement male engagement programs such as Coaching Boys into Men and COMPASS; work with partner agencies to bring parent voices to the forefront of healthy relationships conversations; and work with the school systems to increase capacity for healthy relationships curricula. The VISTA will also assist in building capacity for and expanding programs like Girls on the Run and Boys Run to the outlying communities of Kake and Angoon.
Violence Prevention & Youth Engagement VISTA (in Fairbanks)
The primary objective of the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (IAC) in Fairbanks is to provide secure shelter and immediate safety for women and their children who are experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, with the goal of reducing this need through prevention. The VISTA will also assist in expanding and implementing primary prevention programs in our community as part of an energetic prevention team. The VISTA will work with youth engagement and the implementation of Girls on the Run, empowering youth in leadership roles in their schools and the community through primary prevention partnerships in Fairbanks. The VISTA will also assist in research and recruiting new volunteers to help engage the community on all levels in ending violence.
COMPASS Male Engagement VISTa (in Juneau)
The VISTA will build statewide prevention capacity by initiating statewide projects that engage men and boys in preventing domestic and sexual violence and promoting healthy masculinities. According to the Alaska Victimization Survey, out of every 100 adult women, 59 have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both. Domestic violence is a main cause of homelessness for women and families, which contributes to a loss of social support networks and an increased risk of poverty. Prevention of violence that changes behavioral norms, including gender norms, prevents future victimization while also preventing against contributing factors that that are detrimental to physical, emotional, and financial security.