I'm a VISTA. A 'Volunteer in Service to America.' This means I've committed to a year of public service, agreeing to live under the poverty line and work whatever hours I'm asked to. Granted, we get days off and my personal position is pretty awesome, but it's a hard life. $550 a month in rent is almost unaffordable, after you add utilities and groceries on top, but it's what I agreed to. I suck it up and work, because I wanted this (I'm a bit of a masochist like that).

This shutdown business has me terrified. Regardless of low pay and long hours, I was at least guaranteed a year-long job with regular pay (however small) and half-decent benefits. Now, even that's up in the air. The Nation reports that VISTAs received an email on Monday regarding the shutdown. I didn't. Neither did most of the VISTAs I know. I went to log into our webportal and was greeted with a splash page telling me the Corporation for National and Community Service was closed due to the shut down (the page has since come back with a much smaller message about the shut down). There was a link to their contingency plan, which I didn't even know existed. I learned that I wouldn't be paid until the government restarts (something they really should have told us when we signed up in July, as a "just in case" effort). I learned that in the event of an "extended" shut down, VISTAs will be released from their contracts. That year-long solid job I thought I had? Not so solid.

S0, here I am. Wishing I hadn't been so idealistic and taken a position where I can work my ass off for next to nothing, and then get thrown to the side without a second thought. It's my own fault, I know.. but maybe this is why more and more people aren't doing community service. It's a thankless job that people forget about, but worse than that, you get shamed for doing it. I'm just trying to make the world a better place. Is that so much to ask?

Advertisement

Well, I'm trying to help the other VISTAs in my position. Check it out, and maybe pitch in to help us survive until this ends.