As a new woman in town, let alone a new VISTA, any connection or support that can be found is like a spring of water in the figurative (and literal..this is Nevada after all) desert. Though I was, and am, unlucky in some aspects of my posting, I hit the lottery by having an office within the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra. Everyday I am surrounded by supportive and empowering women that constantly move me with their tenacity and passion. At PSO (if you don’t know what that is, then please read the last post), baby VISTA’s are cautioned to take advantage of whatever resources they have within the community. In my case, the primary resource is the Director of WACCS, Vivienne French. A stone’s throw from my desk sits this magnificent woman who immediately went to work to make me feel appreciated and at home. Not only does she provide an endless supply of practical advice and contacts within the community, she tells me about the best places to visit in Reno and the surrounding areas. Within minutes of meeting me and hearing about my problems with housing, she asked me what I needed and gave me an armful of goodies. On a daily basis I ask her for advice and suggestions, and more than once she has stayed late to walk me through a crisis, both personal and professional. She has shared my victories and my sorrows, going so far as to hand me tissues and provide a shoulder to lean on, offered up suggestions for a fun weekend and praised my work (though she receives no benefit) to her colleagues and members of her board. For whatever higher power there may be, I must give thanks to be “housed” within this fabulous organization. But folks, I can’t stop there! Vivienne is not the only one that has made this drastic and difficult change in my life easier. The Education Coordinator at WACCS offers me just as much support and advice, and definitely helps me laugh at the barriers that I encounter. She gripes with me, just so that I don’t have to gripe alone (and that’s the worst, right!). I get to complain without feeling like a miserable person, and she congratulates me on my smallest of victories! What more can a VISTA ask for?! Oh yeah! Another woman who inspires me daily with her personal story! This other woman is a wonderful example of the good the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra does on a daily basis for a number of women. She greets me with a smile every day, and I am able to be a woman with her and not a VISTA. Whenever I leave the office to go do work for my own program, she quickly pulls the “sad face” and asks me not to go. During our breaks we talk about life, love….and other mysteries (name that song!), and give each other advice. One day I walked out of my office and pulled my famous quirky grin when she looked up, to which she replied, “You bring so much sunshine into the office.” That day was the day I knew I had found a family here. Yes, the women of WACCS keep me going and turn my frown upside down. Regardless of what the future holds for me, I will forever be in their debt.
The Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra is a wonderful organization that actually makes a difference in the community. They don’t just provide what families need, but they teach women to advocate for themselves. Do you know what this means? It means that this organization isn’t simply built around donations, or the simple solution; they are working towards making a sustainable difference, and I only wish that I was making as much of a difference in the community as they are. If you would like to make a donation, or learn more about the organization, click here.