AmeriCorps Member Spotlight: Frank Voltattorni
Frank Voltattorni serves as an AmeriCorps member at a VISTA Project hosted by Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. He began service in 2019 and is currently in his second year with Campus Compact VISTA.
Tell us a bit about your project!
Fairmont is a small, unincorporated community, located between Lockport and Joliet, Illinois. Due to disinvestment and a variety of other issues, Fairmont has faced some obstacles that Lewis University is aiding them in overcoming. My goal as an AmeriCorps member in this organization has always been to build a strong, mutually beneficial, and collaborative relationship between Lewis University and the Fairmont Community. One of the first ways I started to address this goal was by putting together a list of key people that have relevant roles in Fairmont and of those interested in becoming involved in Fairmont. The list comprises 44 people whose roles range from faculty from Lewis, faculty from Fairmont Elementary, county officials, church leaders, as well as community leaders and residents from Fairmont. Using that list, the Fairmont-Lewis Coalition was created. On September 30th, 2019, the coalition had its first meeting. Since then, Lewis and Fairmont have partnered in over 30 unique ways, and the list is still growing!
What have you learned from your VISTA service?
I, honestly, have learned so much from my time serving with a VISTA project. I have grown so much as a person in a variety of ways. To list some examples: my professional development skills have drastically increased, I have learned how to properly facilitate a meeting, my public speaking skills have significantly grown, and I have become much more comfortable in my own skin. However, the most important thing I believe I have learned is the power of building relationships. It is such an important idea to recognize, not just in this line of work, but in every aspect of your life. When fighting social injustices, the only way to overcome them is together, with others, as one. To stand in solidarity with others means to feel with others and to do that you must first build a relationship with those you stand with.
What advice would you give to a new AmeriCorps member?
As you begin to serve at your VISTA project, you might have a lot of questions and concerns. Perhaps, you are nervous or even scared of what being an AmeriCorps member might look like. I want to reassure you that you are in good hands. Being nervous about starting in a new position is completely normal. However, you have support. Between the VISTA Leaders, VISTA staff, and even your peers, you will have access to a lot of assistance. I always felt that if I ever needed help with something, there was always someone I could go to. On a lighter note, I hope you are excited! There is so much to be gained from this experience. Simply stated, your time as an AmeriCorps member will help you in every aspect of your life in the future. With that in mind, I encourage anyone stepping into the role of an AmeriCorps member to enter this time of their life with an open heart and mind. Be ready to learn, to teach, and to change the world.
What is your proudest achievement from your time with AmeriCorps?
I think my proudest achievement so far was advocating for Fairmont to receive the De La Salle Medallion for Excellence in Community Partnership from Lewis University. The award honors a community-based organization that has demonstrated outstanding collaboration with Lewis University through curricular and co-curricular community engagement. After presenting my case, the choice was clear, and the Fairmont Community and Fairmont School were awarded the 2019 De La Salle Medallion for Excellence in Community Partnership. For me, this was such a proud moment because not only did it represent all the amazing and unique ways we have partnered, but it showed the community that we, as a University, are forever grateful for their willingness to partner and to allow our students to receive an indispensable experience. We all have worked so hard to make social change in this community and this award shows the community that Lewis University is with them for the long run and we are extremely thankful and excited for the future to come.
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