CEDAM is excited to introduce Zach Miller, our new AmeriCorps VISTA leader. Zach joins the team with experience as both an AmeriCorps State and VISTA member. We talked to Zach about his AmeriCorps experiences and his upcoming service year.
Emily: How long have you been involved with AmeriCorps?
Zach: I started with the AmeriCorps State program at CEDAM. After that, I took a year off and then returned to AmeriCorps in 2018-2019 as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Now, in my third year, I am serving as a VISTA Leader for CEDAM’S AmeriCorps VISTA program.
E: What drew you to the AmeriCorps program?
Z: I saw it as an opportunity to do something meaningful that I would enjoy. On top of that, I knew it would help me to develop my professional skills. In my two terms I have learned a great deal and I know that my time has benefited the organizations at which I served. I first became aware of AmeriCorps due to my father. He had nothing but good things to say about the program. This led to my brother serving as an AmeriCorps member in Rochester, NY. When I spoke to my brother about his time in AmeriCorps, he told me that it played a crucial role in helping him to obtain employment in the nonprofit sector.
E: What is your role as a VISTA Leader?
Z: VISTA leaders support their program and their members. In this role, I develop training materials, communicate with members, promote the AmeriCorps brand and CEDAM, and provide general member support. On the promotional end, I will be working with Emily Reyst and Rachel Diskin to develop a strategy to promote ten years of AmeriCorps at CEDAM.
E: What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?
Z: I like that CEDAM’s VISTA members are serving throughout the state. They are serving in different communities and on different projects. I am excited about the opportunity to visit each of their service sites in November and I look forward to supporting them throughout the year.
E: Do you know of any projects that the members are going to be working on?
Z: I recently talked to a member in Charlevoix where they launched a coworking space on September 9. The space, dubbed “The Vault,” has received a great deal of media coverage. The member will help to run the space and ensure that it thrives. The area, which formerly housed a bank, now includes co-working space as well as a yoga room. Our other members are working on a variety of projects including the creation of food pantries, the recruitment and training of volunteers, as well as the creation of a public space within their community.
E: Why are you interested in community development?
Z: We live in communities, so to me that’s an obvious question. Why wouldn’t I care about that? How can I not care? If I’m living somewhere, or people are living anywhere for that matter, I would like them to have good public spaces and the opportunity to better themselves. Everyone should have opportunities in their community. There’s a lot more we can do and the solutions are out there. We just need to support and fund those solutions. It does not always take a lot of money but it does take dedication. Too often people only see the obstacles. I see the potential to change things for the better. We all live in communities and that’s what people care about most.
What are you currently reading?
- I do most of my reading online, typically the New York Times.
What are you currently binge-watching?
- Father Brown
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
- Alaska or Hawaii
Coffee or tea?