Another entry in celebration of our great VISTA's, during AmeriCorps Week.
Last summer I got a ‘cold call’ from a donor wanting to help the homeless; little did I know the impact Calita Taylor would eventually make on the Urban Ministry Center. The traits she brought to that first visit, enthusiasm paired with a practical and positive approach to solving problems, have helped her (and us) greatly in her current placement as Basic Services Coordinator, through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
Calita’s first challenge: the mail. Over 1,000 people receive mail and packages at UMC and the sheer volume creates a complexity you would never imagine. And for many neighbors, the mail is their only connection to the outside world, to services and assistance, or their next step out of homelessness. Imagine waiting on that ID you need so badly—the mail becomes the most important service we offer you at that moment. Calita takes that personally, respecting the personal business and connections that are so important to some of Charlotte’s most vulnerable neighbors.
Until now, volunteers sorted mail anywhere they could find space, including the floor. You had to separate, stamp, check against 2-3 different lists, then alphabetize, and finally place it in the box. . .very time consuming. Calita has introduced sorting bins with alpha-specific lists and place cards to eliminate much of those time vacuums. And it’s working famously! Volunteers who have been here for years are loving the system and have told me how efficient it is.
You might be able to help Calita with her next task: recruiting regular volunteers to help sort and distribute mail. These are short positions, 10am-12pm for sorting, 11:30-12:30 for distributing mail to neighbors. Calita is anticipating more volume during the early week days once the USPS terminates Saturday delivery in August. So, these volunteers will be more important than ever to get the mail put up on time. To volunteer, fill out the individual form found on our Volunteer webpage and indicate mail as an area you’d like to help with.
After that, Calita will be on to Showers and Laundry. Recruiting and improving. It’s what she does!