Karen completed a year of AmeriCorps VISTA service as our Evaluation Specialist on Aug. 19. We will greatly miss her analytical mind, passion for research, and outgoing personality!
When you first start applying for a VISTA position, the first thing any potential sponsor site will tell you is how little you will be making. This statement is usually followed by the “is this something you are interested in?” question. Throughout the journey from an applicant to an actual VISTA, someone will ask you this question along almost every step of the way. The logic behind the question is sound: it is, in fact, very difficult to live off a VISTA stipend. However, having the opportunity to work with an organization as fantastic as Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis is worth it. Having spent the greater part of a decade working with nonprofit organizations in one way or another, I can honestly say that Girls Inc. is the best I have had the privilege to work with. You would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated, compassionate, and visionary group of individuals in any organization.
My VISTA year was spent as an evaluation specialist with Girls Inc. In its most basic form, evaluation is the use of careful appraisal and study to determine the significance, worth, or impact of a program or process on an individual or an organization. In essence, that is what I have spent the last year of my life doing. I created surveys, conducted interviews, performed research, and analyzed and reported the results. My work was used for everything from the 2011-2013 strategic plan to the decision to implement a new program cycle in the fall. I also got to ask our partners, volunteers, girls, and parents how they really feel about Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis. I have to say that it didn’t really surprise me when I reported that, overwhelmingly, the people involved with Girls Inc. love Girls Inc. I was able to say with certainty that the work being done by Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis is real, impactful, and necessary. The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be smart, strong, and bold, and as I leave this organization I can count myself as an inspired Girls Inc. girl.