Kristie Luna – MEND’s Work Readiness VISTA

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Kristie Luna graduated from Sacramento State with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics and has been volunteering and working in public service since she was 18. An internship with the California State Capitol combined with a professor’s push to learn more about AmeriCorps, Kristie realized that there was plenty of community work to be done at home, she says. After learning more about both the AmeriCorps VISTA program and MEND’s mission to break the bonds of poverty, Kristie knew that working at MEND “just made sense.”

Her background in working with at-risk youth as well her knowledge of the unique needs our communities face, the most challenging and urgent being the basic needs to stable income, housing, and food, guided Kristie during her time at MEND’s Job Center. There, she helped develop, support and facilitate programs and workshops like Mock Interviews, Professional Clothing Distribution and Customer Service Training, all of which help clients transition smoothly from job training to work readiness. As the Job Center grows, Kristie says her biggest takeaway from her work will be the “the satisfaction and gratification that I was able to help the people in my community.”

With aspirations to be a Human Advocate and one day work with the United Nations, Kristie says she will remember MEND and the other VISTA members as a “mini family,” driven by their desire to help wherever needed. Her love for policy development and outreach through public work might even lead her to pursuing her JD, though she says she’s “not sure” just yet. Her hope when she leaves MEND, is that the new VISTA members that come in have “the same passion that we all do.”

By Volunteer Mia Rodriguez