LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A local organization is recruiting volunteers to have a positive impact on west Louisville's Russell neighborhood.

Syden Smith, a recent college graduate, and she is on a mission to help change the world through Americorps VISTA. Even though she is voluntarily earning below minimum wage and living below the poverty level, Smith has big dreams and plans.

"(I want to) really understand where they're coming from," Smith said. "You really have to be in their shoes."

Smith became an Americorps VISTA in May of this year. The program recruits volunteers to work, mentor and walk in the shoes of people living in poverty.

"The VISTA really needs to understand what it feels like to live in poverty," said Kevin Fields, President & CEO of LCCC, Inc. "VISTA is about service to America, and it's about creating change in economically distressed areas."

LCCC, Inc. recently became a VISTA sponsor and is recruiting VISTA Community Impact Ambassadors for the Russell neighborhood.

VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service to America. The program was the brainchild of President John F. Kennedy.

"JFK envisioned Americorps VISTA," Fields said. "It was actually signed into law after President Kennedy was assassinated."

During Kennedy's inauguration, he famously said, "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

"President Kennedy had a vision of making sure that everybody knew that there was an opportunity to have an impact on the country," Fields said.

Fields hopes Kennedy's words still motivate people to serve and have an impact on the Russell neighborhood.

Smith is clearly motivated to get involved, but she also knows that despite the pay, there are limits to her empathy.

"I still have very little understanding of what they go through on a real day-to-day basis," Smith said. "I mean, they've had their entire lives of going through this and trying to get out of it."

The deadline to apply to be a VISTA Community Impact Ambassador with LCCC, Inc. is at the end of August. The organization hopes to have the volunteers in place in the Russell neighborhood by September of October.

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