Two Serve Philadelphia VISTA Corps members, Yanah Jefferies and Jeron Williams II, joined President Biden, Mayor Parker, AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith, Philabundance CEO Loree Jones, and fellow AmeriCorps members from around the Philadelphia area for a morning of packing food distribution boxes as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

While a little nervous and excited about the prospect of representing the Serve Philadelphia VISTA Corps, Yanah, the Community Engagement and Neighborhood Data Collection VISTA with the Department of Commerce, shared that she was “filled with appreciation, happiness, and honor to have the chance to serve alongside leaders who are at the forefront of building capacity for communities and our nation as a whole.”

A Philadelphia native, Yanah is deeply committed to serving her community. In her second term of AmeriCorps VISTA service, she believes that “when driven by a passion for service, community becomes the beating heart of every effort.”

“[We had] an undeniable energy in the combined teamwork, commitment, and dedication of fellow VISTAs, the Philabundance team, AmeriCorps leadership, and even White House staff! [We shared] joyous moments filled with laughter, dancing, and even tears as we honored the great Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Jeron, the AmeriCorps Financial Empowerment VISTA with the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, another Philadelphia native committed to serving the city’s residents, approached the day as they do most things – ready to experience new things, connect with people through meaningful conversation and share their passion for and commitment to giving a voice to the youth of our city. Jeron noted that AmeriCorps CEO Smith “is super ecstatic about all of the AmeriCorps programs in Philly and is even more excited that so many young people are getting involved. He’s confident in a growing workforce that starts with a year of national service.”

Yanah noted that President Biden shared this same appreciation and passion for service.

“President Biden exhibited personability and empathy, taking it upon himself to greet and shake hands with everyone. The President asked about our motivations for serving and members expressed our shared dedication to building community, fostering self-development, and improving community outcomes. President Biden expressed gratitude for our service emphasizing that volunteerism is rooted in compassion and empathy for others.”

Both Jeron and Yanah agreed that “it was gratifying to feel heard, acknowledged, and appreciated” for their accomplishments and commitment to service by local and national leaders. The Serve Philadelphia VISTA Program is honored that President Biden, Mayor Parker and AmeriCorps CEO Smith chose to serve alongside Philadelphia’s AmeriCorps members and proud of Yanah and Jeron for their service and strong representation of the Serve Philadelphia VISTA Corps.

Jeron and Yanah had words of wisdom to share with folks who are interested in committing to a year of national service with VISTA and other AmeriCorps opportunities:

Jeron: Service years are definitely for the experiences and more about what you make them and who they make you. You never know what could happen. You could meet new friends, outlast an administration change, [and] even stand across from the President and shake his hand. Make the best out of your year, rest assured there’s more in store than you thought initially.

Yanah: Committing a year of service is a pledge to combat poverty and assist those most in need. It is an honor marked by pride, dedication, and ongoing effort to carry out the impactful work we engage in. Empowering others and contributing to the well-being of my city bring both personal fulfillment and profound gratitude. Motivated by my passionate spirit of service and unwavering commitment to collaborative action, I aim to create a lasting impact that resonates.

Join our interest list to learn about upcoming opportunities.