Tutor and Event Documentarian

VISTA Name: 
Thomas Konieczny
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Thomas’ current duties consist of tutoring and mentoring individuals who are involved in various youth and community projects and organizations, and technical support for LTC’s various media and infrastructure upgrading projects.

Project Outcome: 

He is good at working one-on-one with individuals and as a utility person on video projects. For example he helped set up and break down the mobile TV rig at a recent Lowell Symphony concert and at this summer’s Lowell African Festival. In between setting up and breaking down he participated as a camera man. He also has video editing skills and has completely edited a few TV shows highlighting community organizations, eg., a half hour show on (The Merrimack River) Clean River Project.

Tom has played a vital role in the LTC’s media work in a number of Lowell’s festivals such as the Lowell Folk Festival, the Lowell African Festival, the Southeast Asian Water Festival. He has worked as a youth project mentor with the River Ambassador Project, the Light of Cambodian Children project, Lowell Catholic High School’s media project, the UMass Lowell GEAR-UP summer project, the United Teen Equality Project and others. He has helps with one-on-one tutoring of new producers involved in two or three religious organization’s TV shows. He has helped out in our vast infrastructure upgrading program as well.

Social Media Research and Development

VISTA Name: 
Billy Brown
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The Community Center is seeking to further develop its social networking presence and find innovative new ways to use technology to expand its outreach so that it can better serve low-income residents in St Bernard Parish, located at the epicenter of devastation from Hurricane Katrina.

The CTC Vista member will be contribute to the success of the project by evaluating all current social networking strategies and, to the extent possible, determining effectiveness and ROI. Research into best practices to increase effectiveness of current strategies will also be undertaken, and the use of additional social networking methodologies will need to be assessed. Should the addition of new strategies be determined to be advisable, the CTC Vista member will work with the Development Director and Executive Director to develop means to implement, maintain and monitor them.

Activity 1: Assess current social networking methods used by the Community Center has been accomplished.
Activity 2: Assist Development Director in designing online fundraising campaign for Holiday Season 2009 has been accomplished.
Activity 3: Develop a cause-based marketing catalog has been accompished in cooperation with the Development Director

Project Outcome: 

The VISTA conducted research into best practices, implemented the findings, and prepared monthly reports of social media participation data (twitter followers, facebook fans, myspace friends, etc). As a result, the VISTA has significantly expanded our social media outreach on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. The VISTA also worked with our food pantry manager to develop a blog to raise awareness, funding and food for the food pantry – see for the result. The VISTA conducted a social media use study of other nonprofits in St Bernard Parish, Louisiana, and a preliminary study of social media use by nonprofits in the greater New Orleans area that are doing the same type of work as the Community Center (long-term disaster recovery) has also been completed. Data from these 2 studies is currently being analyzed and the findings will be used by our next VISTA to further develop the social media strategy used by the Community Center.

The VISTA prepared 2 short videos which the Development Director integrated into the end of the year fundraising campaign (both available at, including the “Thank You” video which was the cornerstone of this campaign. The VISTA produced a 5 minute overview of the Community Center and a volunteer testimonial (all available at The VISTA also compiled a CD that contains a comprehensive introduction to the Community Center of St Bernard. The CD includes video footage of hurricane Katrina damage to St Bernard and surrounding parishes, used by permission of, along with statements from the Community Center’s Executive Director, and a 12 minute video shot entirely by the VISTA that has interviews with key Community Center staff and details both the services available at the Community Center as well as ongoing needs. This CD is distributed to Community Center donors who give more than $25 as well as offered for sale for $10 to the more than 1,100 volunteers from all around the world who come to the Community Center annually. The 12 minute video will also be a key component in the various fundraising tours that the Executive Director is planning for coming months.

Activity 3, the online giving catalog, proved the most challenging of all the tasks undertaken by the VISTA. Deciding on items to include and whether to structure the catalog as a retail sale (eg buy t-shirt with the Community Center logo and part of the sale price goes to the Community Center) vs a sponsorship sale (buy a hot meal for 40 people for $10 or 200 lbs of rice for the food pantry for $50) was the first challenge. In the end, after a review of what other non-profits are using, a sponsorship sale based on that used by Heifer International and the World Wildlife Federation was chosen. The next step was coding this catalog, including setting up a shopping cart that automatically generates the ability to choose from a variety of “thank you” e-cards for the purchaser after the sale is complete. We are very grateful to the VISTA for his dedication to the project and his willingness to develop his technical skills which enabled him to finish this complex project.

Youth Learning and Cablecast Development

VISTA Name: 
Amy McKenzie
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

This month will end the VISTA tenure of Amy McKenzie with the Mobile Learning lab for Information Education (MoLLIE) of Grand Rapids Community Television (GRTV).

Amy’s year with MoLLIE was characterized by a maturing of the project, both in its partnerships with area schools and its facility with linking MoLLIE efforts to the area mandated curriculum. Relationships that were begun with area teachers in our first year of operation continued and thrived. Those teachers that utilized MoLLIe in the first year actively promoted the MoLLIE project to their colleagues leading in turn to an expanded clientele of teachers in a broader selection of schools.

Project Outcome: 

Amy played a crucial role in this path to success for the MoLLIE project. She produced an eight minute promotional DVD for the MoLLIE project. The DVD has been extensively utilized over this past year to immediately familiarize area teachers, principals, and school administrators with the educational services provided by MoLLIE. Amy’s production has been crucial in spreading the word in our community of the availability and the successes of the MoLLIE project. Not only is the promotional DVD an accurate portrayal of the efforts of the MoLLIE project but it also represents the talents of Amy as a film and video artist. This year, in national competition, Amy’s DVD won the Alliance for Community Media award for documentary video.

Amy has also provided stellar service to MoLLIE by producing for cablecast a weekly program entitled MoLLIE Matinee, a showcase of the works of students and NPOs produced with MoLLIE assistance. By the end of this reporting period there were 44 thirty-minute episodes of MoLLIE Matinee, with more in production.

The MoLLIE office underwent major changes this summer with increases in staff and a move to a much larger office. Amy did a superb job of handling the logistics of the move as well as developing and implementing new organizational procedures for all aspects of the operation, including staff, equipment, and scheduling.

Additionally, Amy has taken charge of making sure that the work on each project in completed, compiled, put to tape, and aired on GRTV as part of “MOLLIE Matinee” which airs every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. In many ways, the most important part of the video process (including script, story board, shooting, and editing) is watching the final product air on TV, and Amy makes sure that this part happens each week.

Finally, though it hasn’t been mentioned the biggest part of Amy’s work (as it is with every member of our team) is going to the schools and after-school centers and working directly with the students. Amy has a gift for working with students, and a strong background in video production that results in both high-quality student videos and high-impact learning.

Impact Quote: 

Amy’s professionalism, demeanor, talent, and organizational skills have secured her a full-time position with GRTV to continue on as the office manager and instructor for the MoLLIE project upon the expiration of her VISTA tenure.

As a long time supervisor and department head, I have seldom had a team member that consistently performs at the high levels of excellence as does Amy McKenzie. The VISTA program should be very proud to have her as an alumna.

Third Coast Conference

October 28, 2010 - October 30, 2010
Chicago, IL

Ready to spend two + days with hundreds of fellow producers, artists, students, and audio enthusiasts, talking shop about radio/audio storytelling on the airwaves and beyond? Ready to come together, listen to each other’s work, share ideas and expertise, and make priceless connections with future colleagues and new friends?

Thought so. This fall marks our tenth (!) anniversary, and we hope you’ll celebrate with us over the course of another radio-drenched weekend here in Chicago.

Making Your Media Matter

May 12, 2010
Washington, DC

Join established and aspiring filmmakers, non-profit communications leaders, funders and students working to learn and share cutting-edge practices to make their media matter, May 12th 2010 at American University in Washington DC. This year marks the Center for Social Media’s sixth annual Making Your Media Matter conference. Registration $100, Students, $50. Register now!

Transmission Project