Casa Quad Cities, AmeriCorps VISTA Target Hispanic Poverty

August  19, 2013

Five people will spend the next year fighting poverty among Hispanic residents in the Quad Cities. The members of AmeriCorps VISTA, which stands for Volunteers in Service to America, will spend one year working at Casa Quad Cities to develop programs that target the root causes of poverty. 

Executive Director of Casa Quad Cities, Michael Woods, says poverty is a growing problem in the Quad Cities Latino community.

"We do mirror a lot of the national politics and national statistics in the sense that the Latino community was hurt the worst under the last recession," said Woods. "We do see poverty pockets and we want to address those, so that we can see that the only ethnic group that's actually having a growth population in the Quad Cities is also contributing economically and thriving as well."

Each VISTA member will focus on a specific project area: youth development, adult education, workforce development, healthcare, and volunteering.

Chicago-native Julius Bell will teach computer classes, along with other adult education courses.

"I would like to have the participants in my classes have a better knowledge of computers, internet, Microsoft programs," said Bell. "Able to pass the GED exam if they wish to take th GED exam, and just have a better life for themselves."

Vivian Chang hopes to put together a volunteer network within the Quad Cities Hispanic community.

"Casa QC kind of approached recruiting volunteers and training volunteers a different way," said Chang. "Because a lot of time there's a language barrier for hispanic and spanish-speaking volunteers. Or maybe they didn't grow up with the idea of volunteering being something you can do. So we want to reach out to that community and kind of engage them in the greater Quad Cities area."

Casa Quad Cities Executive Director Michael Woods says he hopes to continue the programs created by the five VISTA members after their year with the organization is completed.