AmeriCorps Member Spotlight – Kasey Hariman

June 14, 2021

Kasey Hariman is an AmeriCorps member with Campus Compact VISTA serving at National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois.

Tell us a bit about your project!

My project focuses on expanding and sustaining the food pantry and other basic needs support services at National Louis University, which is headquartered in downtown Chicago. National Louis serves a student body of around 9,000 students, 69% of whom are eligible for federal Pell Grants (grants for students from low-income backgrounds), and 72% of National Louis students are also the first in their family to complete higher education.

Day-to-day, my work involves things like fundraising, donation management, compiling and updating community resources that students can access, producing content for info sessions, newsletters, and mass emails, and finding ways to simplify food pantry operations.

What have you learned from your VISTA service?

That you don’t need to be a genius to leave things in better shape than you found them. I’m sure more knowledge and experience certainly helps, but so much of my work just involves showing up in a way that’s mostly about effort. Most of what I do is just a matter of sending emails, scheduling meetings, asking questions, taking notes, and following up afterwards.

What advice would you give to a new AmeriCorps member serving on a VISTA project?

Honestly, I have been so impressed with my VISTA cohort that I am really hesitant to offer any advice to another VISTA! I feel like I’ve really been the beneficiary of other VISTAs’ advice, more than anything else, so I think the best advice I could give would be to keep in touch with your cohort and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve had challenges that could have taken me hours solved in minutes, thanks to advice from my fellow VISTAs.

What is your proudest achievement from your time with VISTA?

My biggest single achievement so far has been scoring a donation that set us up for basically the whole month of March, but I’m most proud of the role I played in keeping the pantry and related services sustained and on track through some really tumultuous times.

When the pantry opened, we were able to offer walk-in services, but soon after COVID positivity rates in Chicago soared and we pivoted to curbside pickup only. Then we had to find a new curbside pickup spot after our first spot was boarded up due to concerns about glass breaking during civil unrest, and then that  second spot became unusable, so we’re now at our third location. Then Chicago weather did what it does, and we stayed open (and served students!) during a ten-day deep freeze and a looming blizzard. AmeriCorps is never easy, but I think it’s been quite a year for those of us serving in 2020/2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • update-img-new

    Get updates on what's new in the Campus Compact Network