Where do I even begin? There’s have been a great deal of things that have happened this month here in Helena. With the rather successful launch of the Family Dinner Project, the ongoing free & reduced application campaign in full swing, and visiting schools within the district and making notes and assessments based on what I have seen with school breakfast, I have proven to be a pretty busy VISTA this month when I sit down and think about it. It’s ironic that in addition to helping launch the Family Dinner Project on the first of October, I’m also attempting to get back with my own family for my own big family dinner which very important to me (and the rest of my family for that matter): Thanksgiving. Add to that my birthday and Halloween occurring at the end of the month, and it’s a wonder that I get anything done during this time of the year with all the festivities that are going on. Yet, I am happy to announce that I’m seeing progress.

 The Family Dinner Project on the first of October had a very strong turnout and it makes me happy to see the families that attended had fun. It was also very nice to be reunited with the rest of the VISTA team given that they have all spread out to various parts of Montana, and I’m typically very busy with my work as a VISTA here in Helena as well as my outside work on the weekends at AppleBees. Also, I am glad to have participated in the Prevention Resource Center’s training that same week because it gave a lot of insight to myself and how I best operate and do things. In addition to this, I did my first Prevention Resource Center quarterly report and had my first host site visit which went smoothly.

I’m still regularly attending Toastmaster meetings every Tuesday night and becoming more confident when I speak to others at meetings. An example of when I got to put my Toastmaster meetings into practice was at this month’s Kids Hunger Coalition meeting where I and others at the meeting took notes on what all transpired. I was also tasked with updating everyone on the ongoing free & reduced application campaign that’s been a work in progress since the VISTA before me. I did more speaking than I normally do, and with a short time frame to speak I feel I summarized what I wanted to update everyone on quite well. This is significant because I really don’t think I would have been able to summarize what I wanted to say had this been asked of me three months ago, despite seeming simple enough to others.

It’s been three months now since first joining the No Kid Hungry VISTA team here in Montana, but my life already feels so different from what it was when I was living in Alabama. I am busier than I have ever been, but I love it. However, I discovered that my biggest two personal challenges in relation to my duties as a VISTA have been clearer communications and being organized which I am steadily improving on thanks to the support of the No Kid Hungry and Prevention Resource Center teams, the staff here with Sodexo, and the Kids Hunger Coalition. It is through my mistakes and errors that I learn how to do something, even when the mistake can be kind of harsh. However, I learn from it and do my best to move forward and I’m very appreciative of the patience that everyone has shown me while taking up the duties of the prior VISTAs before me. I would never have expected it to be in the mountains of Montana if you had asked me five years ago when I was still wondering what I was even doing with myself during that time. This month has been as productive as it has been a bit crazy, but it is what I signed up for and quite frankly, I’m glad I did.

Steven Mann
PRC AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Montana No Kid Hungry
Helena, MT