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AMERI-NEWS October 2013

NH Catholic Charities VISTA Project

New members begin their service year as the NHCC VISTA project enters its second year as an operational grant For the first time in the history of the project all of the NHCC VISTA members will be located right here in the state of New Hampshire. This is exciting news for Renée, Kim and Lexie who are already hard at work planning meetings, trainings and social excursions —We hope you enjoy the publication!

Member Quotes “Working with Granite United Way on the 2013 Day of Caring has helped to solidify VNH’s partnership with them and successfully garnered

FAQ with Kim and Lexie

their support for the Spirit of

Q: I have questions about my education award/cash stipend, AmeriCorps portal account, forbearance for my student loans, or health coverage. Where can I get answers about these things? A: The VISTA Member Support Unit, or VMSU, is a team of experts in all things VISTA. They usually staff a help desk during normal business hours and can be contacted through your My AmeriCorps Portal online. However, due to the partial government shutdown, the VMSU team is currently furloughed.

New Hampshire Nominations process” - Ryan Kristoff

Ryan has been working hard on partnerships for the Spirit of NH

Q: How can I start thinking about career development during my VISTA year? A: AmeriCorps alums have a great website with webinars, information about the ed. award and a section specifically focused on professional development. Check it out at

Awards. Attending the event is free and will be held on November 14th at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.

In This Issue

VISTA members and the Raven One NCCC Tam during the Patriot Day service project at the NH Food Bank Production Garden on September 9.


Perspectives on fall in NH by Kim, Lexie and Ryan


Conflict Management in Action


Upcoming events


Useful resources for navigating your service year

Welcome, NHCC VISTAs,

, To Our Project!

For bios and information about our team, check out the “Meet the Team” tab on the Wikispace Page!

Feature story

Insider Tips for Fall from a NH Native Believe me, you don’t want to miss this! By Kim Farias

Welcome to fall in NH. The leaves have begun changing colors, it is getting colder during the day and especially at night, and harvest foods such as apples and pumpkins are plentiful. For those of you who have never experienced autumn in New England, I hope you enjoy it! This article is meant to be kind of a guide for you to help you make the most of the season. After all, you have a long winter ahead of you. The first item on our agenda: fall doughnuts. You may have encountered these if you have gone apple picking this year. Many small NH fruit stands, farmers markets and pick-your-own apple farms sell them this type of year. They are often called apple cider doughnuts, though you can also get them flavored with pumpkin, and they are best straight out of the fryer. Added bonus: the extra calories will help you build up some natural insulation that will come in handy when the temperatures drop below freezing!

Freshly Fried Doughnuts from the Chichester Country Store

Some of the locations that supposedly make the best cider doughnuts are listed below. I have not personally sampled them all myself, but I will make that a priority this year. 

Chichester Country Store, 257 Main St. Chichester, NH, (603) 798-5081, Chichester Country Store Facebook Page


Applecrest Farm, 133 Exeter Road, Hampton Falls, 9263721,


Carter Hill Orchard, 73 Carter Hill Road, Concord, 2252625,


Gould Hill Orchards, 656 Gould Hill Road, 746-3811,


Meadow Ledge Farm, 612 Route 129, Loudon, 798-5860,


Sunnycrest Farm, 55 High Range Road, Londonderry, 4329652,

The second item on our list is haunted attractions. Believe it or not, NH boasts numerous, well-established “haunted” venues for the Halloween thrill-seekers who are too old for trick-or-treating. Last year a group of VISTAs and I went to Haunted Acres in Candia NH. There were five attractions and lots of spooky actors in costumes. I have heard that Spooky World in Litchfield is even bigger and better than Haunted Acres, though I have never been. Check out all of NH’s haunted attractions and hayrides at the link below:

The third item on our list is fall hiking. This is my favorite time of year to go hiking. It’s not too hot and the views are spectacular when the foliage is in full bloom. Having grown up in Keene, I am admittedly biased about this topic because I think nearby Mt. Monadnock is the best fall hike around. Located in Jaffrey, NH, Monadnock has at times topped the charts as the most frequently climbed mountain in the world. I can see why people come from all over to visit. There are numerous trails to the peak with varying difficulties, and the top of the mountain is not so high that it freezes early in the year as do many of the mountains in the Whites. Be warned though, it will be chilly at the top this time of year, so bring an extra layer if you are headed up this season. Despite my biased love for Mt. Monadnock, there are other amazing trails and hidden places to explore on foot in NH. Definitely check out this link below to find the best hikes in NH.

The is a photo I took approaching the summit of Mt. Monadnock on a late-fall hike. If you are planning to climb in November or later I would suggest bringing Yaktrax or some other icetraction device for your boots.

No matter what you choose to spend your time doing this season, remember to enjoy yourself. Being a VISTA can be stressful at times and finding a little bit of time to unwind with an inexpensive activity can go a long way toward keeping you healthy. In any case, these last few glimpses of fall sunshine will have to tide you over for the next five months as the days begin to shorten and the cold weather sets in, so consider making the most of it while fall is still here!

Autumn and Apples and Festivals, Oh my! These are my two crazy cousins proving how much fun apple picking is.

“Trick or treat!” In just a few short weeks the famous Halloween phrase will be flying from children’s mouths as they race door to door collecting candy through their neighborhoods. But what about Fall in general? Is the brisk air and bright foliage a real treat, or is it all simply a trick to lull us into false happiness while winter quietly creeps in? While there are a few ‘tricks’ that come along with autumn (word to the wise: wet leaves on pavement are just as dangerous as ice) there are many perks that come with the season. With my first experience of Fall in New Hampshire being last year, I have to say that it was a lot of fun. Autumn has always been my favorite season, so New England had to meet some pretty high expectations to make me happy. I kicked it off with an apple picking excursion at Mack’s Apples and plan on doing the same this year. Mack’s was a great orchard with a wide variety of apples, but there are plenty of orchards all over the state!

I like to think that the mass amount of apples I ate last year is what kept me healthy all through winter—you know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This year I’m planning to make and can my own applesauce (thank you Pinterest!) so I can have that fresh apple goodness into the winter. Fall is the time for apple picking, scarf wearing, and drinking as many pumpkin flavored things as I can get my hands on, but I also discovered that it is the season for festivals. Since last year was my first time living in New Hampshire, my

extended family took it upon themselves to keep me busy nearly every weekend—this included attending numerous festivals right in downtown Manchester. I went to a Lebanese festival, a Caribbean festival and even a Pagan festival (that was fun to tell my mother about). All of these events had great music, tasty food and interesting people.

Apples have been shown to wake you up better than coffee with the energy boost from their natural sugars!

This is a view from the running path at Livingston Park. Fall is the perfect weather to go for a nice run or walk.

To find out what festivals are going on in Manchester or closer to your own location, check out They have a large listing of community events going on all over the state, and you can even break it down to only see free activities—perfect for the VISTA budget. Another website to get ideas for Fall activities is They have one of the best event calendars to search because it lets you filter results by date, location and type of event. Few things bother me more than finding an event I want to attend and then noticing that it’s already happened or that it’s too far away; this calendar eliminates that frustration.

So throw on some flannel, grab a hot cup of apple cider and see what New Hampshire has to offer this season. There are plenty of events going on to stay busy and make the most of this crisp, Fall weather. And if you find something fun, feel free to share it with everyone on the Facebook page or Wikispace. We’re all in the

My moose dog loves going for long walks in this weather. If anyone needs a pet fix, come join us!

same state, we’re all VISTAs and we’re all getting things done—so why not have some fun together?

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

Conflict Management in Action By: Lexie Kwiek Difficult conversations—everyone has to handle them at some point, and while they are really never fun, there are ways to make them productive and less frightening. One of the conflicts that always pops into my head when thinking about facing difficult conversations happened during the Junior year of my undergrad career. That’s when the dreaded “P” word was thrown at me. Plagiarism. As a Comm. major the “P” word still makes me nervous because it was so drilled into my mind that if you ever stole someone else’s work you would receive a zero, get removed from the program and be shunned from all society. So I was blindsided when a professor I admired accused me of using a friend’s work as the basis of my own paper. “You think I would do WHAT?” My initial reaction was anger because it felt like an attack on my personal character. How could she think I would steal someone else’s work? Did she really think I was that dishonest? And why would I ever use something Kate had written?—She was a good friend, but a less than stellar writer.

Before I could face my professor I had to take a step back and employ the following conflict management strategies. Check Anger Levels: When I first saw the note scribbled at the bottom of my paper to meet during office hours and discuss the similarities of my paper and a classmate’s I was furious. I knew immediately that unless I wanted to get in trouble for verbally assaulting a professor I needed to take a little time to calm down. Check Out the Participants: The three parties involved needed to be together to figure out a solution; that included my professor, myself and the author of the paper that was too close to my own. Check Out What Other People Want: I had to actively listen to what my professor needed to come of this conversation. Did she need a rewrite? Did she need me to grovel? Did she need me to take a lie detector test? I had to figure out what it would take to reach a mutually agreed upon solution. “Hmm. How can we both win in this situation?”

Understand What the Conflict is Really About: On the surface it would seem that the only issue would be that our papers were too similar, but was that all that was going on? Was my professor just as offended as I was because she thought I was trying to fool her or cheat the system? While I took some time to calm down from the initial shock I tried to look at the issue from all angles to see any information I might have overlooked because I was upset. Look for Solutions Together: The meeting had to focus on what we all needed to move forward. I needed to understand why she was accusing me, she needed to understand that I hadn’t plagiarized and we both needed to work out a solution to continue having a positive classroom relationship.

Check in Later: Once we reached an agreed upon solution we would need to have some form of follow-up to make sure we were all satisfied with how the situation was going. A key to handling this situation productively was using my own emotional intelligence, which helped me to identify my feelings but also allowed me to reframe my view to see how my professor was feeling. I first identified that I was too angry to approach the situation right away, and once I stopped running through the list of bad names to call my professor I tried to see how she might be feeling. Plagiarism is a very serious topic, so I realized that she must not be taking this lightly either. By acknowledging that she “I know how I’m feeling so I can take could be equally offended by finding two possibly related paa step back and interpret how you may pers I was able to tailor my approach in a way that didn’t seem be feeling.” like I was accusing her of carrying out some kind of personal vendetta (which was a motive that crossed my mind while I was initially burning with anger). By identifying how I felt, what I needed and some solutions to the situation, I was able to have a very successful—albeit difficult—conversation with my professor. Since I controlled my defensive urges and kept the conversation focused on the issue rather than the individuals involved, she acknowledged that I was an honest student who wouldn’t steal another’s work. Once we worked through our personal feelings we were able to discuss solutions and then setup meetings after the next few papers to make sure we were still on the same page. If anything, having that “Yay! Everybody wins!” difficult conversation strengthened our rela“I still don’t like conflict.” tionship because we were both able to act professionally and find common ground. While we were able to maintain a positive relationship I still remember the sick feeling I had walking down the hall to her office. The conversation had to happen, and if it hadn’t she probably would have thought I was avoiding the conflict because I was guilty. Standing up for yourself and having difficult conversations can be, well, difficult. But by actively using conflict management techniques and developing your emotional intelligence conversations can result in productive and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Poverty, Capacity Building, and Determination By: Ryan Kristoff As VISTAs we have dedicated a full year of our time and energy to help the communities in which we serve. The mission to fight poverty and empower citizens to make change is one of the reasons we choose to serve. In the year that we work, our contributions will make New Hampshire a stronger and more sustainable place. How VISTAs achieve this goal is primarily through capacity building in crucial organizations in the community. This type of work is essential and often relied on by the non-profits that enlist us. In my seven months of serving I have found that VISTA is some of the most fulfilling work I have ever done. There have been challenges along the way, and my service is not what I imagined it would be. Since we do very little direct service it is sometimes difficult to see the difference we make in stemming poverty. Working behind the scenes we do crucial building for organizations that may otherwise be unable to grow. Often this work is difficult and we do not always meet with success; at times it can feel like we have to struggle to get anything done. Being ambitious and self-disciplined I hold myself to a high standard in my work. It can be disheartening for this work not come to fruition or even outright fail. There may be times when your service is frustrating, long, and stymied by lack of success. But even these struggles can be essential. The work you do, even the work that doesn’t pan out how you envisioned it, is work that your organization was unable to even attempt without you. They rely on your ingenuity, creativity and determination when building the essential systems they need to succeed.

In my experience most of the work I have done I built from scratch, with the guidance of staff and peers. Even the work that has been done year after year that I assist with has whole new tools that will survive my leaving. For me, one of the greatest disappoints I have had was a $25,000 grant that I worked tirelessly on. My Board of Directors, Executive Director and co-workers all stressed how important it was to be awarded these funds. We weren’t funded. Being the architect of the grant I placed the responsibility on myself. I told my boss that I was sorry that my work didn’t rise above the rest, that I knew how much we needed those funds, and that I was disappointed. She was surprised. She gave me a confused look and said: “Your work was very well done. You don’t seem to understand that what you wrote can be used as the basis for countless grants. In fact, it will be.” The point is that even your perceived struggles are something that your site didn’t have before you, whether it provides them a tool, language, or the knowledge that a certain approach may not be successful. Stay determined VISTA’s.

Upcoming Events 

The Next NHCC VISTA bi-monthly meeting will be held on November 21st. Stay tuned for information about the venue; we will likely switch it up this time.

Contact Us Do you have a story you would like to contribute to our newsletter? Let me know! Kim Farias



The 2013 Spirit of New Hampshire Awards will be held on November 14th at the Capitol Center for

(603) 669-9725 x 243

the Arts in Concord, NH. This year over 90 different volunteers & organizations from all over New Hampshire will be recognized for their commitment to service and New Hampshire's tradition of volunteerism.


As the fall and winter holiday season approaches remember to follow your host-site holiday schedule for days off.


Community Events: The Keene Pumpkin Festival is coming up on October 19th along with the NH Film Festival from October 17-20 in Portsmouth. Find the links below to learn more: Keene Pumpkin Festival NH Film Festival

News from our Members Arianne Bedard secured a $50,000 grant from Cogswell Benevolent Trust for funds to purchase food for the NH Food Bank last month. Nice work, Arianne!

Don’t Forget About These Useful Resources: Our NHCC VISTA Wikispace: http:// New Hampshire Catholic Charities website: americorps-vista.aspx NHCC VISTA Facebook: http:// nhccvistas/ Budget Bytes is a great website for finding tasty recipes while on a budget: http://

Katie Joyce has been working very hard on the Keene State tutoring program. This fall the program has received many more requests for tutors than ever before in the history of the program, which means that more students are getting the support they need. Way to go, Katie!

Becky McKeown has been working on publicizing the Count Me In! contest for the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities and was able to get information about the contest published in the Concord Insider and the Concord Monitor, as well as featured in the Clear Chanel Radio ads. You are awesome, Becky!

Wishing you a great autumn!

Fall 2013 VISTA Newsletter  
Fall 2013 VISTA Newsletter