By: Kamilah Roberts
Enrolling with AmeriCorps VISTA was a new and exciting experience. Starting at my service site was almost like the first day of school for me. I was the new VISTA Housing Assistant and I knew there would be tons that I would have to learn. Starting anywhere new can be confusing — even difficult at first — but with time and patience I eventually found my way.
Before enrolling with AmeriCorps VISTA, I had recently graduated with no major work experience in anything other than retail and customer service. I majored in advertising, but had no real outlet that allowed me to apply my talents before I came to Athens Land Trust.
Starting as the VISTA Housing Assistant with Athens Land Trust was new and exciting, but it was also overwhelming trying to find my footing within the organization. I am serving in a position that works with those in need of affordable housing, a topic I knew very little about. However, I quickly found that applying basic marketing skills would be a helpful tool in building capacity and better understanding my role at the land trust.
In any situation where you are marketing something, it’s critical that you understand the brand and products. Research was a key step in understanding my organization, our mission, the services we provided, and who we hoped to help with those services. I understood that I was an extension of this organization, and that everything that I did would have to communicate a consistent message conveying the organization’s mission and overall goals. Through a better understanding of our organization and our clients, I became more confident in my role conducting outreach and speaking about the affordable housing program. I was becoming better at answering questions on my own and letting others know about the services available them. I was finally finding my place and felt confident that I was doing my part to build capacity.
My position as a Housing Assistant has taught me many things about the community land trust model, affordable housing, and even about myself. I now know that I have the talent and the ability to push myself to do things I’ve never done before. I’ve created tons of promotional materials, I’ve put together an educational workbook, and I’ve done outreach with many different groups and types of people. My job as a VISTA isn’t done yet, and I look forward to seeing what I can do next.