Hello! My name is Tara Smith, the new AmeriCorps VISTA for Blueprints.

I’m a Washington native currently residing in Canonsburg. In my free time, I enjoy photography, playing guitar and singing, hanging out with friends and family, and working out.

I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon this year through their Run for a Reason program. I raised over $500 dollars for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of my grandfather, who passed away from Leukemia back in 2014.

This will be my second term with AmeriCorps. My first time was with KEYS (Knowledge to Empower Youth Success). I did a year-long term of service through Community Human Services (CHS), a non-profit based out of Oakland, PA. I served as a Volunteer Coordinator for their food pantry and assisted with other special projects they had. I ran social groups for those who live and attend their residential/mental health program.

Also at CHS, I taught basic computer literacy classes to adults of that program, as well. With today’s world becoming so technologically advanced, it is so important to be able to know how to use the basic functions of a computer. A lot of people take for granted how much easier technology makes the day-to-day functions of both our home and professional lives. It was so rewarding to see the people I helped learn and understand how to look something up on the internet or type out a letter to a loved one.

Another project I have done – outside of AmeriCorps – was creating a fundraising charity walk for CHS’ homeless assistance program. I created and distributed sponsorship and donation handouts to different businesses; created physical/digital flyers to distribute for the event itself; found the event location and picked a date/time; recruited volunteers to help during the day of the event; made donation baskets; found entertainment for day of event; solicited donations for food, snacks and the Chinese auction; was interviewed for two local newspapers; and created a welcome speech that explained who I was to the non-profit and the impact everyone attending the fundraiser had for the organization to help our local homeless community. We raised over $3,500. This event was created within four months during my college internship with CHS.

I am now serving through VISTA AmeriCorps as a Communications Coordinator for Blueprints. During my year here, I will assist in creating visuals (both print and digital) for high impact programs and share in the mission/vision of Blueprints. I will also be assisting with social media and will be writing in the monthly e-newsletter as well.

I hope that my year here serves as a mediator for the community and the Blueprints agency. I am really excited to be serving in an area that I call my stomping grounds and to see how my impact makes a difference.