Frequently Asked Questions

“Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself.  Through challenges, I discovered that I am more able to adapt than I had previously thought.  I will be able to take the skills and self-awareness I gained from this experience with me throughout life”    ~Rebekah P.

What is the relationship between Lake Effect Leaders and AmeriCorps VISTA?

Each Lake Effect Leader is an AmeriCorps VISTA member.  Lake Effect Leaders acts as an intermediary organization which places members at local nonprofit organizations and schools. Many of the benefits that members receive, including their living stipend, education award, health coverage, and student loan forbearance come through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.


Can members serve for less than year at the host site?

No, this is a one year commitment to serve and members are required to complete the entire term of service.


How are VISTA members chosen for their sites?

Potential VISTA members must go through an interview process with the Lake Effect Leaders Coordinating Committee and then interview with the sites they’re interested in serving with for the year.


Is housing provided for VISTA members?

No. However, Lake Effect Leaders tries to assist members in connecting with local landlords and low-cost housing options. In addition, a small housing stipend is often provided. 


How many VISTA member positions are available?

The number of members varies from year to year depending on available funding.  Generally, Lake Effect Leaders is able to host 25-30 members.


When do VISTA members start their position?

All VISTA members must attend a Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). PSO dates are typically in July or August.


Are VISTA members able to choose their host site?

Yes, prospective members can indicate which sites they’d be interested in serving at.  Host sites will conduct the final round of interviews and extend the offer to the applicant.  Applicants can decide to accept or reject the offer.


Can you interview for multiple sites within the project?

Yes, prospective members can indicate interest in multiple placements and interview with more than one site.


Is it difficult to survive on such a small stipend?

Many of our members are eligible for public assistance benefits such as SNAP that allow them to offset some of their expenses.  Our Lake Effect Leaders also ensures members are aware of low-cost entertainment, shopping, and dining options for the area.


Can I defer student loans during my service?

You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you’re finished.


Can I join if I'm not a U.S. citizen?

You must be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S. to be an AmeriCorps member.