For Immediate Release—Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
SUNY Geneseo Graduate to Fight Poverty
Through AmeriCorps VISTA Program
GENESEO, N.Y.—The State University of New York at Geneseo has welcomed the AmeriCorps VISTA program back to its campus this fall after a four-year absence. Scott Hangauer, a 2006 graduate of Geneseo, will coordinate the program, which aims to help the 10.8 percent of Livingston County's population who are living in poverty.
The VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program was created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 as part of the "War on Poverty." Since 1964, the program has been incorporated into President Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps program. The goal of fighting poverty is one aspect of the program that has not changed.
Hangauer has spent much of his college career preparing himself for this type of work. "I worked a lot with Habitat for Humanity in college," says Hangauer. "I've also traveled to New Orleans to rebuild homes in the Upper 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina."
"I applied for this job last year because it fit my interests well and I wanted to stay in Geneseo. I eventually want to be a guidance counselor, and doing this kind of work ties in very well with my goal," says Hangauer. Although Hangauer enjoys his job and has experience in the field, there is a bigger reason compelling him to fight poverty here in Livingston County.
"I feel that we all have a duty to give back to the community and our country," says Hangauer. "Being a part of this program is just like being a part of the military. I feel a strong sense of duty to serve my country, and I've chosen to do that in this way. There is a sense of honor that goes along with being part of this program."
The AmeriCorps VISTA program will fight poverty in three different ways. "First, we will create a database of all the different community services that are available in our county," says Hangauer. "We will design a database for administrators who are trying to connect people to these services and a database for the residents themselves who are looking into these services. We will incorporate any organization that provides a service to the needy in Livingston County, from local churches to food pantries."
"Our second task will be to start a mentoring program aimed at convincing juniors and seniors in local high schools, who are unsure about advancing their education, to develop the necessary confidence to do so," says Hangauer. "We want to familiarize low-income students with the process of going to college or vocational school and then help them achieve their goals."
"We also plan on starting a housing rehabilitation program," says Hangauer. "I want to recruit both college students and expert craftspeople to provide small home rehabilitation services, such as winterizing a home, to those who can't afford it."
"So far, the reaction on campus has been great. When I tell people about the projects, they are almost always interested in helping. It is exciting and inspiring to see how many Geneseo students want to give back to their community," says Hangauer.
Hangauer's VISTA program is funded with a $10,800 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Hangauer is hoping to recruit approximately 20 students for the mentoring program and 30 students for the home rehabilitation program. Interested volunteers may contact Hangauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (585) 245-5186.
Written by Joe Mignano, public relations intern in the Office of Communications and Publications.