(Back, left to right) AAFE AmeriCorps VISTA members Keenan Turner, Douglas Lim, and Xiang Siow with (front, left to right) AAFE staff member Jin Xiu Chen and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin at Gouverneur Healthcare Services’ fundraiser in Chinatown.

Over the past year, AAFE has welcomed 3 AmeriCorps VISTA members to its offices in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and Flushing, Queens.  AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty.  VISTA members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, strengthen community groups, and much more.  In July and August, the VISTAs will be wrapping up their service terms.

At AAFE subsidiary One Flushing, Xiang Siow worked to empower small business owners and local residents to identify resources, advocate for policy reforms, and create economic opportunity.  Under the direction of his supervisor John Choe, Xiang helped conduct nearly 400 surveys of small business owners in Flushing.  He summarized the findings in a community profile released in May 2013.  Furthermore, he coordinated and supervised a team of interns to increase One Flushing’s capacity.  In the fall, Xiang will begin law school at Harvard University.

Under the guidance of AAFE Housing and Community Services Director Peter Gee, Douglas Lim took initiative in updating AAFE’s social media profiles and website.  As a result of his efforts, the number of “likes” on AAFE’s Facebook page sextupled and the number of AAFE Twitter followers more than quadrupled. He also assisted in organizing fundraisers for AAFE, namely AAFE’s 39th Annual Lunar New Year Banquet and AAFE Housing and Community Services First Annual Fundraiser.  Douglas is happy to say that he will be staying at the organization in the role of AAFE’s Development and Communications Coordinator.

Working for Chief Operating Officer Ernesto Vigoreaux, Keenan Turner took on a supporting role in resource development.  He helped apply for several general operating support grants as well as project-based funding.  As coordinator of AAFE’s Employee Action Committee, Keenan assisted in organizing a productive company-wide meeting in June as well as other employee initiatives.  After finishing in late July, Keenan is looking forward to taking some time off and developing his marketing skills.

“Being an AmeriCorps VISTA at AAFE has helped me better understand the problems that low-income people face in New York City,” said Keenan.  He added, “With little prior experience in doing development work, I am glad that Ernesto took me under his wing and taught me how to apply for grants.”

Thank you Keenan, Xiang, and Douglas for your service to AAFE, and good luck with your new endeavors!