Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund

Donate now to support the families and communities affected by the Panhandle and South Plains wildfires in February 2024. The Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund is administered locally by Amarillo Area Foundation.

Meet Jessica Enriquez, Communities In Schools of Central Texas | VISTA Spotlight

Jessica Enriquez

In our VISTA Spotlight, our OneStar AmeriCorps VISTA members share in their own words about the transformative experience of serving with nonprofits and agencies in Texas working to eliminate poverty.

During my senior year at St. Edward’s University as an English Literature major, I had the opportunity to apply for a paid internship with the Partnership Department of Communities in Schools in Central Texas. I was preparing for what was sure to be the most stressful semester of my academic career and at the same time, the most exciting. I was writing my thesis on the “Dualistic Perceptions of Guinevere in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur” and felt immersed in that literary world which I admired and desired to belong to.

I must say that my “encounter” with Communities in Schools—and therefore, with the nonprofit sector—was not initially due a natural-born desire to serve my community as perhaps many of my fellow VISTA members have experienced. My encounter with Communities in Schools was, in a way, accidental. I remember during my interview with my current supervisor, I was asked how (or if) I thought my work at CIS would connect to my aspirations and work as a writer. At that moment, I responded that much of what I wrote was about the human experience and that I believed it corresponded (in a way) to the role I would be performing as an intern in the Partnership Department.

After more than a year of serving our CIS families in various positions, I am now as a VISTA for the Basic Needs Department. I can wholeheartedly say that my experience as part of this community has helped me develop as a professional in ways I never imagined. When I think of myself as a writer now, I do not think only of my poems; I think of the ways my skills can help underserved communities. For instance, as part of my role, I have had the privilege of providing Spanish translation for several of our documents, and I am a huge advocate for Spanish/bilingual outreach. In the future, I would love to continue serving to increase the engagement of our Spanish-speaking parents and increasing their awareness and education of the different resources available for them!