Texanthropy Spotlight: Shelby Thomas – 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Award Winner

March 16, 2018

In honor of AmeriCorps Week, today’s Texanthropy Spotlight is Shelby Thomas, the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards AmeriCorps VISTA “Make a Difference” Award Winner. This award recognizes the exemplary achievement of an AmeriCorps VISTA who is currently serving or has served the State of Texas.

Shelby Thomas has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc. (ACAM) in their Disaster Relief and Recovery Division.  ACAM is a member of the Greater Houston Storm Recovery Network and the Texas Gulf Coast VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster).  These collaboratives represent over 40 different nonprofit and government organizations.

During Shelby’s service, Houston has been impacted by numerous major storms, and her work as a VISTA was invaluable to recovery efforts. One of the greatest challenges in times of disaster is communication across the many voluntary organizations involved in response and recovery. Seeing this, Shelby implemented systems and processes to address this challenge. Not only were Shelby’s efforts a success, but they are already being replicated by associated ministries, and will remain in place even after her service is completed. Thanks to Shelby’s outreach to the 17 organizations that received grants through ACAM for disaster relief and recovery, ACAM was able to capture over $1 million in in-kind donations. Shelby worked closely with the Texas Gulf Coast VOAD to update the VOAD website and its roster of members, which is critical to maintaining the communication network. Shelby also updated ACAM’s GuideStar profile by entering in various nonprofit metrics, as well as financial and planning information.  ACAM is now one of only four Houston-based human services organizations (in a region with 627 such organizations) with a Platinum GuideStar Seal.

Shelby’s service as a VISTA has had a significant and lasting impact. She came at a time when others were experiencing burnout or had lost enthusiasm after a series of disasters hit the region. Shelby brought fresh ideas, joy and enthusiasm for the work that needed to be done, uplifting all organizations and revitalizing efforts to serve.

Congratulations to the Shelby Thomas, the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards AmeriCorps Vista “Make a Difference” Award Winner. And happy AmeriCorps Week, Shelby!