Lincoln partners with local foster care agency to house volunteers

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JEFFERSON CITY – The Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (CMFCAA) is teaming up with Lincoln University to take in four AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Its mission is to alleviate poverty through volunteering.

Lincoln University will provide affordable housing, free meals and access to campus resources to AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working for CMFCAA.

“We serve a 13-county region in central Missouri. There were three full-time staff here for a very long time, so our hands were tied whenever we needed to reach out and do the work necessary in some of those rural pockets of Missouri,” Deanna Alonso, the CEO of CMFCAA, said.

This will be the first-time VISTA volunteers have worked in Jefferson City. The volunteers will help with day-to-day operations at CMFCAA such as marketing, fund development, systems building and recruitment.

“What CMFCAA is doing with VISTA volunteers is trying to improve adverse childhood experience scores for those who come into care,” Alonso said.

An adverse childhood experience (ACE) is a sum of 10 different types of childhood trauma including abuse, neglect and dysfunctional families. According to a study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s ACE, a high ACE score could lead to various health problems including obesity, drug abuse, diabetes, depression, heart disease and more.

"Youth [in foster care] are more likely to end up in poverty as adults and have probably already experienced poverty. So, that's how it fits with the VISTAs' goal of ending poverty is we really want to make sure their childhoods are set up to put them back on the right track to be healthy adults," Bryanna Leach, the fundraising VISTA for CMFCAA, said.

AmeriCorps VISTAs serve one year at their service site.

“I am very grateful for CMFCAA for giving me this service opportunity…and glad to be a part of the VISTA team for CMFCAA," Rubina Jabbar, the marketing VISTA for CMFCAA, said. "These services will allow CMFCAA to create sustainable foster care services and adoption program and impact poverty by finding forever families for abused and neglected children,”

“Not all AmeriCorps VISTA sites even have the affordable housing option. It is just something the site can find and can offer the VISTAs. It’s really helpful because we don’t make a ton and rent would take up a lot of our stipend,” Leach said. 

“Lincoln University is pleased to welcome the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to our campus family. It is my belief that their interactions with our students and our students’ interactions with the volunteers likewise will serve both greatly in terms of a greater understanding of how our experiences shape our future selves,” said Michael A. Middleton, Interim President of Lincoln University, in the press release.