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Maine AmeriCorps*VISTA Welcomes New Leaders

January 17th, 2012

Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director
Maine Commission for Community Service
19 Union Street, 38 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

AUGUSTA - The Maine AmeriCorps*VISTA project welcomed two new leaders in January 2012. Eileen Riley-Buzello was sworn in as VISTA Team Leader on January 9th to begin her year long term. She joins Erin Dunne whose VISTA Leader Term began at the end of December. Together this pair help manage 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in organizations across the state to develop education and service-learning, services for veterans and military families, and volunteer engagement. These leaders and members are under the management of the Maine Commission for Community Service and Corporation for National and Community Service.

new VISTA leadership teamAs the team leaders, Buzzello and Dunne provide support to the volunteers who come to Maine from all over the country. They also work closely with the Commission project coordinator, Meredith Eaton, and manage the training, performance, and accountability systems of project sites scattered from Searsport to Bryant Pond and down to York.

Buzzello is a retired Nebraska trial lawyer who moved to Maine and started her first VISTA assignment in 2010. That experience not only gave her an opportunity to learn about Maine and emergency management but also gave her the chance to fulfill a goal of serving her country in honor of her contemporaries who had served in the military.

Having completed that assignment, Buzzello decided to advance into the team leader position and commit another year to service in Maine. "One year didn't seem like it was enough time given to my country and I wanted to continue to expand my relationship with the Commission," she explained. " I am looking forward to mentoring our VISTAs and helping to develop a military/veterans VISTA presence in Maine." Buzzello now lives in Augusta.

Dunne is also entering her second year of VISTA with the Commission and, like Buzzello, is advancing to a leadership role. A Florida native and 2010 graduate of Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida, Dunne's first year assignment laid the groundwork for the service-learning VISTAs now working in school districts. Dunne's motivation for service reflects the opportunity many recent college graduates have found in AmeriCorps. She explained "After my term of service ended, I decided to become a VISTA Leader to strengthen my leadership skills and continue my professional development."

Project coordinator Meredith Eaton noted "these leaders are essential for project success because, not only are there 20 VISTA members each working on a unique assignment, but there are 20 supervisors who need support to keep their eye on the goals and not get pulled off track by the events of the day. That's 40 people to coordinate. I am so thankful for the help of VISTA leaders and impressed with the commitment these two have to helping each VISTA succeed."

Authorized in 1964 and founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993. VISTA members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency and receive a modest stipend from the federal agency to cover basic living expenses.

The Maine Commission for Community Service is the state government partner of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation programs. The Commission builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy to solve local problems.