Americorps VISTA Spotlight: Marina Vergara

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with coalitions this year? 

The most rewarding aspect of my coalition work this year thus far has been the relationship building I’ve been able to do. I’ve met some amazing, passionate leaders, and although we aren’t able to meet in person, we’ve still been able to connect and build relationships.

How has your previous experience, either educational, work, life, or some combination of all of these, informed your work with coalitions? 

My work as an Agriculture Extension Agent with the Peace Corps, along with my role as a canvasser with Greenpeace, have shown me the power of community organizing, and the importance of active listening. The biggest lessons that my previous experiences have taught me is that community leaders know exactly what to do, and sometimes, to get from point A to point B, all it requires is a little bit of creativity and/or connecting to resources. My role allows me to spend time being creative and making these connections, so that community leaders and their organizations can continue their impactful work with no delay, and expand their impact, with the help of collaboration.

What are you learning about the issues of hunger and poverty in your work with coalitions? 

I am learning just how complex these issues are, and how intersectional they are as well. The vast amount of organizations we work with that each focus on very different issues – from advocates for individuals with disabilities to those who provide meals for the hungry to school districts with farm to school programs – who come together to increase food security and alleviate poverty for their community is amazing.

What are you learning about institutions and individuals working to alleviate hunger and poverty in your regions? 

I’ve learned that individuals and organizations in my region understand the importance of collaboration and are excited about it. Each organization sees their respective work as important, and simultaneously sees their work as a part of the bigger picture. There is a desire to stop working in silos and to start working as a team.

What is a “Big Idea” you have that you would like to see implemented by coalitions to address hunger and poverty in your regions? 

I would like to see the coalitions I work with continue to implement work around the ideas of food justice and food sovereignty. Although there is a stigma around agricultural work in the area, there are individuals and organizations pushing back, emphasizing the variety of opportunities around careers in agriculture, the importance of ownership around how your food is grown, and designing community driven projects to increase food security in areas of the community that are marginalized.



Marina Vergara is an Americorps VISTA in BCHP’s South Texas Office.

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