I earned my BS in Biology from the University of Richmond in 2017, and loved the city so much that I decided to stay (I am originally from California). While doing volunteer work as a mentor and tutor in Richmond’s East End, I found a passion for working with youth. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I am working with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club to build a mentoring program from the ground up. By using a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Digital Arts, Math) based curriculum, I aim to give our youth the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century. I am currently interviewing at dental schools, and hope to open my own practice one day. When I’m not at work, I love biking, hiking, cooking, and woodcarving.
My name is Joy Gilchrist and I am currently serving as an Americorps VISTA with the Peter Paul Development Center through Virginia Mentoring Partnership. I am a native of RVA and recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where I studied Psychology and Women’s Studies. I am a lover of good music, Oreos, and medical TV dramas.
The main reason I became a VISTA in Richmond was to become more connected to the city I grew up in. Richmond continues to surprise me with all it has to offer even when I thought there was no more to see and experience. At my site, I hope to bring in new volunteers and mentors by tapping into both large and small networks within the Richmond area. Some of the populations I hope to tap into would be the VCU and VUU college communities as I feel college students can use their experiences and perspective to positively impact youth who look up to them. Upon completion of VISTA experiences, I plan to continue my education by obtaining my Master’s degree and continuing work with the education and non-profit sectors.
In her role, Katelyn is instrumental in supporting and enhancing the recruitment and non-profit partnership efforts. A passionate advocate for social justice and youth development, Katelyn graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Business Economics. While attending UCI, she worked with diverse groups of individuals — from first generation students to international students — through her participation in mentorship programs, club sports, and leadership organizations. During her service year, Katelyn hopes to make her organization more well known in the community, alongside advocating the importance of mentorship. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing by the pool, exploring new eateries, baking sweets, and catching up on TV shows. Katelyn has visited more than 10 countries and hopes her curiosity leads her to continue travelling throughout her life.
Hope Davis is a native Virginian from Spotsylvania. During her time at Marymount University, she studied English while performing with the university’s theater group and working with the Peer Mentoring Program. As a Peer Mentor, she was able to see how mentoring and education go hand-in-hand. During her year as a VISTA, she will be serving in her hometown at Germanna Community College, where she hopes to build a mentoring program that helps students realize their potential and allows mentors to feel supported by the program and by each other. In her spare time, Hope enjoys reading, writing, and yoga, and one day hopes to work in either theater or publishing.
Steve is serving as a Program Specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge in Charlottesville, VA. After graduating with a B.A. in International Studies from Dickinson College, and later a M.A. in Humanitarian Response and Human Rights from Penn State’s School of International Affairs, Steve spent two years working with refugee youth and families in Chicago and Nashville. He then completed a temporary contract with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Philadelphia (where he is originally from) before relocating to Charlottesville in order to work with adjudicated youth and resettled refugee families through BBBS. When he is not at work, you can find him roaming the outdoors, watching American football (E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!), or catching a folk or rock concert.
My name is Morgan Cochran, and I will be helping to coordinate the Befriend-A-Child Mentoring Program. This is my second year of service with AmeriCorps. I graduated from the University of Virginia College at Wise earning my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. I have worked with children with emotional, physical and mental disabilities in addition to working with at-risk students by running restorative groups, one-on-one meet ups, and tutoring. I love traveling and have traveled to Colombia where I volunteered and worked with at-risk children. I have also traveled to Tanzania, Africa where I spent 3 months volunteering in a village running group programs on nutritional and sexual health for pregnant women and the importance of youth practicing safe sex for the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
My name is Brianna Dunn, and I am serving as a Mentoring Program Coordinator with Befriend-A-Child. I moved to Fairfax County two years ago with my husband of thirteen years and our son, who is a second grader in FCPS. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Previously, I worked for U.S. Probation in the District of Nevada as a Probation Officer Assistant.
I became an AmeriCorps VISTA for the lucrative pay and notoriety. Just kidding. Truthfully, I have a heart for the community and the adverse effects of poverty. I am driven to do my part to enable others to rise out of deficiency not only for themselves but for future generations as well. I hope to continue my training in Social Work and further my education in an applicable field.
My goal while working with BeFriend-A-Child in Farifax, VA is to effectively match mentors and mentees to empower each other, provide hope and build a thriving, lasting relationship. I also aspire to engage more males in the program, as many of our mentees lack positive male role models in their life.
I have a deep appreciation for the performing arts, having graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts with an emphasis on theatre and dance. I am passionate about health, wellness, and fitness. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, going to the gym, spending time playing board games, and watching wrestling and hockey with my incredible family.
My name is Azuree Bowman, and I currently serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Alexandria, Virginia. I coordinate 10 Alexandria mentoring programs that constitute the Alexandria Mentoring Partnership (AMP). These 10 programs range from serving youth to adults, and they address a variety of different topics in mentoring. However, they all revolve around addressing the same goal in the Alexandria community, and that goal is to be someone who matters to someone who matters. Thus, the most important aspects of my job as the AMP Coordinator is to build on that goal by understanding the community I am working with, instituting sustainable methods and practices for mentoring, and providing continual support for all partners. Prior to beginning my service year, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies at James Madison University. During my years as an undergrad, I was able to expand my knowledge on civic engagement and identify reasons why it is essential for community building. By utilizing this knowledge, I am able to apply these skills to my job as the AMP Coordinator and continue to gain from new experiences.
Kelsey attended Malone University where she majored in Biology with minors in Chemistry and English. While living in Charlottesville post-college she volunteered with a community development nonprofit called Abundant Life. She immediately fell in love with the organization and kids in it. When a VISTA position opened up at Abundant Life, Kelsey jumped at the chance to be involved at a deeper level. As a VISTA this year Kelsey has two main goals. First, she hopes to create a system of recruiting and supporting volunteers that will be sustainable for the organization. Second, Kelsey wants to see an after-school program for the 5th-8th grade girls of Abundant Life developed that will empower and support them through their preteen years. For her long-term career goals, Kelsey hopes to continue in community development work in some capacity. She is considering graduate studies in either social work or education. In her free time Kelsey loves to read, run, and participate in anything competitive and/or outdoors.
In her second year of national service, Sarah is serving as VISTA Leader for Virginia Mentoring Partnership, where she supports 9 VISTAs who are developing/enhancing mentoring programs across Virginia. Prior to this role, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA through VMP with Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth (STORY), a nonprofit in Hopewell focused on increasing the academic achievement of youths living in low-income communities. While serving with STORY, Sarah developed a one-to-one site-based mentoring program and implemented a successful four-month pilot launch.
Sarah graduated from Champlain College in 2017 with a Bachelors of Science in Professional Writing. While in college, Sarah completed internships with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Brandylane Publishers, Senator Bernie Sanders, among others. In Spring 2016, Sarah studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, where she was fortunate to volunteer as a tutor with an after school program serving low-income youth. In 2017, Sarah completed her first book, “The Political Is Personal”, a collection of short stories, essays, journalism, and history that explored the ways in which political, economic, and cultural systems shape and impact the formation of identity and access to opportunity.
Sarah is passionate about equity and devours books on topics related to poverty, identity formation, and systemic prejudice, most recently Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?. A lifelong learner, Sarah hopes to get one (or several) graduate degrees and continue doing work that builds empathy through relationships, expands awareness of privilege and the realities of inequity, and promotes the development/enhancement of effective trauma-informed systems and services.