We have two new staff members at Faith that Works this fall! Iris Chuang and Fungai Mapurisa joined the Faith that Works team this November through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Iris will serve as our Development Coordinator and Fungai will serve as our Program Development and Operations Coordinator. Both will serve full-time with Faith that Works for the next year, and we are excited to have them on our team! Below, Iris and Fungai share some of their backgrounds and what led them to serve with Faith that Works: Fungai Mapurisa: I was born and grew up in Zimbabwe. I have a Bachelor of Social Work from University of Fort Hare, South Africa, and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. In South Africa, I worked with domestic violence victims, and I conducted crisis counseling, facilitated support groups, and engaged in community awareness campaigns. In 2014 I worked as a graduate intern for the City of St. Louis Department of Human Service/Homeless Services Division. My responsibilities included program evaluation, agency monitoring, developed policies and procedures, and researched best practices on ending homelessness. I joined AmeriCorps VISTA because I wanted to be a part of a larger community that had the same goal: poverty alleviation. With a social work background, what I agree with the most that AmeriCorps VISTA stresses is helping organizations and communities to help themselves. During my year as a VISTA, I am hoping to acquire more knowledge on volunteer management skills, project management, and come up with community-based strategies of ending poverty that are specific to the population I will be serving (Hispanics). I would also like to use my VISTA year to learn some Spanish. My role at Faith that Works is Program Development and Operations Coordinator. I will be responsible for building the capacity of Faith that Works by supporting outreach programs at the Chesterfield Mobile Home Park through data collection and program evaluation. In supporting the mission of Faith that Works, I will be engaging in relationship building in the community through volunteer recruitment and coordination. What drew me to Faith that Works is the organization's ability to reach out to communities in need locally (the Hispanic Outreach in Chesterfield, MO) and internationally (the Global Outreach in East Africa). As an immigrant and African, I can relate to both population groups. With my social work background, I will use the skills I have to join the fight in making poverty history through community empowerment and capacity building. The things I enjoy doing apart from learning about other cultures through food, music, and art are jogging, playing tennis, and attending symphonies. Iris Chuang: My older brother and I were both born and raised in St. Louis, MO, even though our parents both immigrated from Taiwan. I was raised going to a Chinese Baptist Church in St. Louis, and after graduating MICDS, I attended the University of Missouri, Columbia. I majored in Business Administration, with an emphasis on finance and banking, and also in Economics. I definitely consider myself an extrovert when it comes to social events, but I know my priorities when it comes to work. I wanted to be an AmeriCorps VISTA to experience and learn more about the mission of my organization and others around my community in order to improve impoverished areas around St. Louis. I am a head full of ideas and love working with genuine people that want to serve and improve the society in which we live. I am looking forward to be working with this wonderful staff that I have been introduced to and excited to see what’s to come in the next year. On another note, I love spending time outdoors and exploring with my lovely dog, Wesley. I live in the Central West End, which is a wonderful place to meet new people and network with other young professionals. When I’m not outside, I’m either reading a book or watching Netflix.