AmeriCorps VISTAs at the Library

Through an AmeriCorps VISTA grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Kansas City Public Library is working breaking the cycle of poverty with the support and service of four VISTA members.

VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) make one-year commitments to serve the community on a specific project at a nonprofit or public institution. They will expand the Library’s capacity to serve our homeless, refugee and immigrant, and teen populations by connecting them with quality services, resources, and lifelong learning opportunities at the Library.

Two VISTA members, Danielle Danforth and Mary Maxine Luber, will work closely with Refugee and Immigrant Services Outreach Manager Julie Robinson. Lyn Cook will work with Kansas City Digital Media Lab staff Andrea Ellis and Marcus Brown to develop a volunteer mentoring program. And Sam Melton will work with Mary Olive Thompson, the Library’s director of outreach and community engagement, and other Library staff members to develop programming and outreach for our homeless populations.

In addition to their duties on specific projects, the VISTAs also will contribute to the Library's social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and write blogs lending the public more insight to their work. If you happen to see the VISTAs around the Library or in the community, make sure you stop to say hello and thank them for their efforts in Kansas City!

Lyn Cook will be building the framework for the volunteer program of the Kansas City Digital Media Lab. She is a digital director and producer by trade and she enjoys contributing to and celebrating the potential of today's youth. To unwind, Lyn enjoys nice music, good sushi, and great company.

Sam Melton will be focusing on outreach and community engagement. She was born and raised in Kansas City and has always felt a commitment to her community. During her year of service she hopes to create a pop-up library pilot and host a bi-monthly Coffee and Conversation program for patrons of the library. Her favorite book is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and she can likely be found checking out plays at one of the city’s many local theaters.

Mary Maxine Luber will be working for Refugee and Immigrant Services. She is a recent alumna of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where she studied nonprofit leadership and psychology. Mary Maxine spends every minute she can reading about urban gardening, community revitalization, and deep space. She loves a good graph and lives for dark roast coffee.

Danielle Danforth graduated from Drury University with degrees in fine arts and Spanish, and is currently in her second year of AmeriCorps service. She is passionate about lifelong learning and loves reading nonfiction, making art, and being active. You can usually find her doodling, sipping herbal tea, or sharing her latest culinary creations. Danielle will also be working in Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Library.