AmeriCorps Community Partnership

AmeriCorps VIP- Volunteer Infrastructure Program

AmeriCorps VIP trains and places AmeriCorps members to increase the number of volunteers providing needed services to children, youth and families who face economic hardship in the community.

AmeriCorps Members are placed at fellow non-profits and serve as part of a community team, working to coordinate programs and support volunteers.

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Check out our 2015-2016 Partnering Agencies

Contact the AmeriCorps Lead Coordinator, Spencer Takata, at (831) 427-5070 or at for questions about the program.

2015-2016 AmeriCorps VIP Members

Spencer Takata graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in June 2014 with a B.S. in Kinesiology. While attending Cal Poly, Spencer discovered a passion for service as he became involved in campus clubs that created opportunities to make a real difference in his community. After graduating, he felt drawn to Santa Cruz- mainly because of the legendary surfing- and was fortunate to join the Americorps VIP program. Spencer is proud to serve as the Americorps Team Lead providing support and resources to his fellow Americorps members, and collaborating with Volunteer Center staff to mobilize volunteers, coordinate events, and develop partnerships with community leaders. In his free time, Spencer enjoys playing guitar, exercising, going to the beach, and pursuing his passion/side job as a professional fire dancer. Contact:, (831) 427-5070 x115

Hannah Levy is a graduate of Willamette University with a degree in American History. During her time as a student Hannah discovered a tight-knit community through service-learning and knew that transitioning into a role with AmeriCorps VIP in her hometown of Santa Cruz would be a great fit. Hannah works with the Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center, an organization dedicated to improving the economic, physical and emotional well-being of all families in Santa Cruz County. Contact:, (831) 426-3062 x 211

Teal Crop

 Teal Mandzik is a Northern California Native  who was born into an off the grid home. From the beginning, he has learned the gratifying practices of  self sufficiency, health and protection of the  environment. These seemingly innate skills have greatly shaped his life, and so far he have successfully utilized them to benefit others. In 2012 he immersed himself into an environmental education internship  through CALPIRG and Americorps. He quickly became the Vice President of the group and went on to coordinate various awareness events, fundraisers,  and educate over 2,000 students. In 2014 he created a food campaign called “You First Farms”  in the city of Merced with the mission to reveal  truths in our food system and reclaim our health by establishing personal farms. In a mere 3 months he coordinated a small group of passionate health advocates to discuss health practices with 300 home owners, set up 30 personal farms, write a blog, install one community garden for a school, and donate vegetables in food deserts. Now he is currently working for Americorps where he coordinate volunteers for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. He recruits, oversees and manages all volunteers that help achieve their mission of equalizing the education system in Santa Cruz County. On top of this, he is creating an organic agriculture class that will teach 8 lessons on farming, offer job opportunities, and offer hands on activities in a community garden.  Contact:, (831) 466-5713

Colleen Walsh serves as the volunteer coordinator at Loaves & Fishes, bringing her passions for food and social justice together. She studied Anthropology and Education at UCSC while becoming involved in various environmental studies and education internships and organizations. She also studied at the University of Granada to learn Spanish and afterwards spent time in Costa Rica working with teens in schools and summer camps. She enjoys good music, spending time outside and in the ocean, and enjoys cooking delicious food for people. She is glad to be spending her service with Americorps at Loaves and Fishes to fight hunger and help find solutions to food injustice in Pajaro Valley. Contact:, (831) 319-4571


Maura Connolly comes to Santa Cruz all the way from Massachusetts. She first discovered her passion for service while attending Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she studied Psychology and Journalism and joined the national co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Upon graduating in 2014 she ventured down to Knoxville, TN for her first AmeriCorps stint, doing recycling outreach and education for the county government. She has continued to pursue her environmental and volunteering passions by becoming the AmeriCorps VIP Volunteer Coordinator for the UCSC Arboretum. Along with implementing some much needed volunteer infrastructure, she also hopes to bring a sustainable touch to the Arboretum. Maura enjoys starting each day with a stroll through the gardens, sharing lunch with the hummingbirds, and riding her bike downhill home from work. Santa Cruz is easily the most beautiful place Maura has lived, and she is convinced the sunsets and palm trees will never get old. Contact:, (831) 502-2305


Mariah Goncharoff graduated from The Evergreen State College with a BA in Political Science and Community Organizing in the Spring of 2015. Born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA she took an Americorps position as Volunteer Coordinator for the Young Writers Program to give back to her own community. Mariah has been a dance instructor for the last four years and continues to be a part of the dance community in Santa Cruz. Her political science degree included an emphasis on Middle Eastern Studies and she plans to attend the American University of Beirut to receive a Masters degree in Arab and Middle Eastern Studies in the fall of 2016. Contact:, (831)466-5829


Michele Martinez is a graduate of  San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Women Studies. Living in San Francisco inspired her interest in social justice and volunteerism. Her community service experience has been based in the areas of foster youth, undocumented immigrants, and the homeless. Contact her at, (831) 469- 1700 x120


XimenaXimena Ireta-Lopez: After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s in Sociology, Ximena wanted to aid her native community of Watsonville by advocating higher education, specifically to the Latino youth. She currently serves in AmeriCorps VIP Community Partnership with the Digital NEST. Contact:, (831) 722-6378




HanaKGpictureHana Keefe-Guerrero graduated with a BA in Anthropology in 2013 from UCSC. During her time as an anthropology student, Hana developed a passion for writing and social justice, and fell in love with the Santa Cruz community. AmeriCorps presented itself as an opportunity to remain in Santa Cruz and to further engage in her adopted community. She currently works at Youth N.O.W., an after-school non-profit program dedicated to providing academic and social support and enrichment to Watsonville youth. Hana has worked in various capacities with literacy, education and tutoring, and excited for the opportunity to further explore and work in the non-profit education sector. Contact:, (831) 768-7998

Desiree Farnal graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science. During her time in college, she tutored children in the Dominican Republic, and volunteered as Program Coordinator for a youth scholarship program in Ghana. Her time in these countries revealed not only the educational needs of children abroad, but also those in her community. She continued her efforts to ensure children have access to educational resources as an AmeriCorps literacy tutor in Salinas, CA last year, and hopes to pursue youth law in the non-profit sector. Desiree looks forward to her term as a YouthSERVE volunteer coordinator where she can create and expand volunteer opportunities for youth in the Santa Cruz County. She enjoys traveling, reading, and watching re-runs of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.Contact:, (831) 427-5066

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