In case you hadn’t heard, the Summit Food Coalition has a new employee! Claude Christensen joined the Summit Food Coalition July 8th as the Capacity Building & Community Outreach Coordinator.
Claude is an AmeriCorps VISTA. The VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program is a domestic version of the Peace Corps meant to alleviate poverty in America. First envisioned by John F. Kennedy after he created the Peace Corps in 1961, the VISTA program was created in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson during his War on Poverty.
Since the first cohort of 20 VISTA volunteers in 1965 there have been more than 220,000 VISTAs. Fun fact: Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin was a VISTA in the 1970s for Legal Aid Chicago.
Volunteers apply to VISTA positions in select nonprofits and, if hired, work for 12 months to build organizational capacity. Technically federal employees, VISTAs are paid a modest living allowance close to the Federal poverty level and receive an education award at the end of their year of service.
Columbus born and Akron raised, Claude is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he majored in English literature and minored in fine arts. Claude applied to be the Summit Food Coalition’s AmeriCorps VISTA because he believes the systemic social, economic and environmental inequities in Summit County can only be addressed through comprehensive grassroots cooperation among residents and local actors. He wants to be a part of the force for change that is the Summit Food Coalition.