Helping Hands, January 29, 2014: VISTA member Andrew Peiffer

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014

Photo provided



AmeriCorps VISTA, Capacity Coordinator at Helping Hands of Georgetown, Inc.


Native of Lancaster, Pa.

Resident of Georgetown

Graduate of Gettysburg College in 2012 with degrees in Spanish Linguistics and Political Science

Has worked at an amusement park, a health care company, and two law firms

VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty.

Authorized in 1964 and founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993.

AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full-time for a year in anti-poverty organizations and agencies throughout the nation, working on issues such as fighting illiteracy, improving health services, and creating businesses.

There are seven local VISTA members working with a variety of nonprofit groups in the area.

What do you like about being part of the VISTA program?

I like that VISTA has given me a way to become involved in work that I find important.

For example, in 2013 Helping Hands provided over $314,000 worth of assistance to residents of Georgetown County, our most ever, and I like knowing I was a part of that.

How does your background help with what you are doing now?

Itís very rare that my Political Science or Spanish backgrounds relate directly to my current work, although all the writing I did in college has certainly helped me as I write pieces for Helping Hands.

Also, I spent a lot of time interacting with clients at my previous jobs, and working with clients is one of my favorite parts of what I do at Helping Hands.

What are your goals for the future?

Iím hoping to play power forward for the Denver Nuggets. If that somehow falls through, I would like to keep doing non-profit work that deals with poverty.

How will your experience with VISTA help you reach your goals?

I have been fortunate in that our director at Helping Hands, Sharon Thomas, has involved me in as many aspects of non-profit work as possible.

By working with our clients, volunteers, board members, and Covenant Church representatives, Iíve become familiar with all parts of Helping Hands, and that experience will help me as I make decisions about my future.

Would you recommend the VISTA program to others?

As a VISTA, my work focuses on capacity building, meaning it can be challenging to find tangible results in much of what I do.

Also, as a volunteer for the federal government, AmeriCorps pays me a living allowance below the poverty level, so working full-time and barely making any money is something I struggle with at times.

With that said, my VISTA experience has been great, and I would recommend the program for someone looking for practical experience doing meaningful work.

Can you tell me about your family?

My parents live in Pennsylvania and work in retirement home management.

My sister is a junior at Susquehanna University, and is currently studying abroad in Spain.

ó As told to Clayton Stairs

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