February was a very productive month in the life of the VISTA in RCSD Health and Wellness program-the school based assessment were completed, grant funds were won on behalf of 4 schools, over 80 organizations were recruited for the health fair, connections seem to be coming out of the woodwork. If I were to guess, this is the part when I hit my peak productivity and it is exhilarating.
However, in the last week or so, what has really been on my mind is the issue of sequestration. Just yesterday, all of us VISTAs received an email from the Corporation assuring us that while there were significant cuts looming in the near future, all of our contracts were going to continue to be upheld for the rest of our service year. After the initial feeling of relief that I would not have to be coming up with a plan B immediately, I began to think about the enormity of the financial crisis. The $85 billion cut before the end of the fiscal year is a number beyond many of our comprehensions. It is when we think about the number of children who will be denied Headstart programs, and the number of air traffic control towers that will be closed, the impact on the Weather Service, FEMA, teachers, defense cuts- it is then we begin to realize the enormity and indiscriminate nature of the sequester.
Yet, we at the CNCS are used to constantly being on the chopping block in a way to reduce the national budget. As early as PSO, we are trained to give an elevator speech about who we are as VISTAs, what we do, and why it is important enough to continue funding. But in the upcoming days and months, in the midst of the governmental financial turmoil, we must begin to think that our strategy that it needs adapting. We are no longer competing for funding from the handful of programs that are considered to be so far from “essential” that they are easily disposable. We are now facing cuts along with almost all of the governmental programs in the country. We are now on untrodden soil.