Written By: D’Havian N. Scott
This week I interviewed Yes Network Vista, Mackenzie Schurhamer from Woodbury, Minnesota. She is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict, studying Art with a double minor in Hispanic studies and secondary education. Mackenzie is hoping to have a career as an Art Teacher. With this aspiration and a connection to Yes Network’s Art Director Alicia Peters, Mackenzie was introduced to and became involved in the Vista Program through the Yes Network.
Mackenzie’s Hispanic Studies minor and being in a Spanish immersion program growing up has been incredibly helpful in her Yes Network experience. Bel Clare is a site that she serves and is home to high populations of Hispanic residents, where English is their second language. Mackenzie uses her Spanish to communicate with families and to help break the communication barrier. “To them, they love it when I speak to them in Spanish because they can accurately communicate with me what they need or thank me for the food.” Mackenzie recounted. “It is really a skill that I am thankful to have while I work because overall it has helped me create new friendships in the community and help serve everyone no matter what language they speak:”
Mackenzie reflected on the experience of going door to door delivering meals to different houses. She said that during the community visit of delivering meals, she had so many people come out of their homes and thank her for helping their community. “This made me feel like the work that I was doing mattered, and we experienced first-hand how important this work is for the St. Cloud community,” Mackenzie recalled. “This is a feeling that I feel every single day when I show up to the Apollo kitchen, and it has inspired me to keep working hard and to make a difference!”
This work is being done amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this has not impeded the Yes Network’s mission of dedication to creating vibrant, loving, prosperous engagement with youth and families in the neighborhoods in which they live. Mackenzie spoke about the precautions that Vistas were taking to keep themselves and the community safe. “We always wear our masks, gloves and keep our distance when distributing food and being with each other when we work.” Mackenzie clarifies that despite its hardship, this pandemic will never take away their smiles and excitement in serving the community.
Mackenzie also spoke her overall experience as a Vista with the Yes Network. She has currently been working for two weeks, and already she has met so many wonderful people. “I work with some of the most amazing human beings, and already in just a short two weeks, we have all become so very close, and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to get to know all of them.”
Mackenzie has had a blast so far as a Vista gaining more experience, helping others, and building relationships with people around the St. Cloud community. She hopes that this will make a significant impact on her and help her become a better art teacher in the future. The Yes Network has been an enriching experience so far, and Mackenzie wanted to leave readers with this message, “I have done volunteer work in the past. I have studied abroad in Chile, where I worked with kids in an after-school program teaching them English. All of these experiences have been so rewarding, but by far, working for the Yes Network has been one of the best experiences in my life! I can say without a doubt that the people that I work with are so incredibly amazing, and this program is something that is so important and rewarding for this community, and I am so grateful to be a part of it!”