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Tanya and the VISTA Outreach team grew close working together over the past year

The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is a good way to summarize the many adventures I’ve had at Housing Action Illinois. I moved to Chicago for the polluted air and loud streets, never one to miss out on the city life, but I stay for the culture and the people. It has been a pleasure working as a VISTA leader with more than 40 amazing individuals in our network who decided to dedicate either a year or a summer to serving their communities. The two years I have spent as an AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA Leader have been life-changing.

I’ve had the opportunity to spread my wings in a number of ways. I was able to write several articles for The VISTA Insider, create a VISTA member resource handbook detailing the different types of assistance available to VISTAs, and develop a cultural awareness and competency workshop specifically designed for AmeriCorps members. I managed and supported 20 amazing VISTAs, who I will miss. I wish them the best of luck in anything and everything they strive to achieve. I have eaten a lot of pizza.

I’m sure everyone says they love Chicago, but I truly do. I have lived in over 13 states and have visited every state except Hawaii and Alaska, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to stay in one place for longer than a year. I consider Chicago my home, Housing Action my adoptive family, and VISTAs my life-long friends. The word “service” has been forever changed in mind. I hope that all of the VISTAs I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year continue to contribute to their communities, advocate for change, and lead this country into a bigger and brighter future.

— Tanya Burgess, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader at Housing Action Illinois