My Year Of Service With School On Wheels Of Ma

During my year of AmeriCorps service at School on Wheels, I can proudly say I accomplished everything in my VISTA Assignment Description, the official list of goals every VISTA gets at the start of her year of service. The organization has successfully transitioned to a remotely-hosted tutoring database that can be accessed from any computer over the internet. This will allow us, starting in the fall, to train Site Coordinators to enter data about tutoring sessions, lessening the data-entry burden at the home office.

In conjunction with Database Consultant, Linda Hyde, I have developed new reports that will allow us to better interpret and present data we have been collecting for years. Having access to these numbers will strengthen SOWMA’s position when writing grants, since foundations are increasingly requiring outcome measurements. Finally, I created a comprehensive manual documenting all aspects of the database for whoever takes over its administration.

Like many VISTAs, as I got to know the work and needs of SOWMA, I took on additional “passion projects.” In January, I led a playwriting workshop for a select group of our older students at the Family Life Center. They produced incredibly creative work and, I hope, enjoyed the chance to use their brains in a new way. One girl told me “I wish I could do this instead of school!” I also took a big role in writing a grant application for two Commonwealth Corps members—a program similar to AmeriCorps. I was in a unique position of knowing what SOWMA as an organization needed as well as what the typical applicant would be looking for. I am happy to report that we received the grant and will be hosting a Volunteer Specialist and Resource Specialist next year—we can’t wait to welcome them to our team! More than any of these projects, though, the memories that I will take away from SOWMA are about the congenial and caring environment. I will never forget the way Cheryl treats everyone she speaks to like they’re they most important person in the world, or the astounding generosity of our volunteers, who give so much time and resources to our kids. SOWMA employees, board members, and volunteers go above and beyond every day, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to work alongside them this year.

A word from School on Wheels, Executive Director, Cheryl Opper: We are so thankful that Marie has graced us with her creativity, her brillance and her kindness this past year serving as our full-time VISTA. We are grateful that Marie choose to do her year of service with School on Wheels to support our mission and our kids. Her many talents were maximized through her work at SOWMA. Marie’s legacy will live on for many years through the important work she has done to build a solid foundation for our new customized database system. We wish you all the best Marie as you continue your journey in DC. We miss you already!