VISTA members in our network focus on a variety of literacy related projects. Current projects include:
Name: Joanna “Joey” Grisham
VISTA agency / position: Development Coordinator at Central Kentucky Radio Eye
VISTA since: August 2011
Hometown: Carthage, TN
What brought you to VISTA?
Honestly, after I got my MFA in Creative Writing I couldn’t find a job. I worked retail for a while and searched the Internet every day looking for anything even remotely related to my degree—anything that didn’t sound terrible that would give me time to write. It was discouraging. I have friends who served in the Peace Corps, and I had thought a lot about doing something like that, but I knew the Peace Corps wasn’t for me. When I came across the posting for a VISTA needed at CKRE, I knew that was my opportunity to get involved with something meaningful.
What’s your favorite part of your project?
I’ve really enjoyed working on the new website. We’re moving from a standard, pretty much black-and-white site to the Libguides format, which is what the UK libraries use. I had to move all the information from the old site to the new one and then update everything, add new graphics and features, link the website to our Facebook page, etc. It’s been a great learning experience for me, and now I feel a lot more confident about doing web-based projects in the future.
What has surprised you most about VISTA?
I’m always amazed and surprised by how much our volunteers do to keep Radio Eye going. I hear about other organizations who struggle to find and retain good volunteers, but some of the readers we have at Radio Eye have been around for 20 years! They are truly dedicated to our mission, and I’m always surprised by that, though I shouldn’t be. It’s so easy to become jaded or disenchanted with this world; getting to work with people who volunteer their time every day simply because they love to help others is a real gift.
Ugh. It’s impossible to choose just one. Fiction: The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Poetry: Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey; Creative Nonfiction: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. And my favorite childhood books are There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Favorite thing about Kentucky?
Something I immediately noticed when I moved here was the emphasis on buying local—local food, local art, etc. It’s really nice to live in a community that has such pride in its people and its products.
Favorite cheap thing to do in Lexington?
I don’t go out too much. I guess if I’m going to endorse something, then I give a big thumbs up to Alfalfa’s—great food, great service, not too expensive. Otherwise, I like to do free stuff like visit different parks or walk around downtown. I really appreciate how hard the community works to keep Lexington so beautiful and welcoming. It really has a small town sort of feel, though it’s a growing and lively city.
Any post-VISTA plans yet?
I hope to get a job teaching at one of the local colleges or universities next fall. I taught English composition courses and creative writing courses in grad school, so maybe I can pick up some classes. I’m also interested in working in publishing or something like that. In the meantime, I continue to write and send out my stories for publication, so I hope to get something published soon.