Welcome New VISTA Members!

Elena Lusk is the new THN Coordinated Entry AmeriCorps VISTA member in Austin, TX. She is originally from the Denton area of North Texas and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelors in Psychology from Saint Edward’s University. During college, she worked in direct service for Front Steps, the emergency shelter inside The ARCH here in Austin. Since then, she worked in Phoenix AZ living and working in the community with her coworkers to run André House of Hospitality, a day resource center, and soup kitchen for people living in extreme poverty or experiencing homelessness in the Phoenix valley. Elena is excited to continue her work in homeless services doing another year of service and is eager to learn the behind the scenes aspects of the non-profit world. In hopes to open her own shelter for people experiencing homelessness one day, as she continues to strive to live simply so others can simply live.


Hi! I’m Adalia Martinez and I am serving as the Community Engagement specialist at SAFE Alliance in Austin, Texas. I received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Franklin and Marshall College in 2017. I am looking forward to building relationships and working with the Latinx community to help raise awareness on domestic/dating violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.



Hello all! I am Jen Beardsley, the new Coordination and Engagement VISTA in Austin, a city I’ve had the pleasure of living in for 10 years. After getting my BA in Sociology, I worked in commercial real estate valuation and online marketing. During a stint as a Resident Assistant at a private dormitory serving an equal mix of students and low-income working adults, some of whom had previously experienced homelessness, I realized my passion lies in equitable housing access and homeless services. I’m excited to help Local Homeless Coalitions realize their full potential and to learn more about how Texans are working to end homelessness. In my free time, I enjoy cooperative housing and business advocacy and exploring all Texas has to offer.


Hi! My name is Marissa Ortega and I’m the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care data VISTA here at THN. I am originally from San Antonio Texas and I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2017 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. My goal for my year of service is build capacity to support and advance the data processes goals of the Balance of State. Currently, I am working on creating and providing the necessary materials to ensure a successful Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and Point in Time count (PIT). I am really excited to see what this year has to offer and all I can help accomplish!




My name is Danielle Spell (Danie) I am serving with Bell County Indigent Health Services and Central County Services as THN VISTA Coalition and SOAR (SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access, and Recovery) Coordinator. I chose to serve as a VISTA because I like being a part of the change. Helping those who are in need has always been a passion of mine. I am used to work in direct service and was curious to see how indirect service would be. So far, I’m really liking it. My hope for this year is to be able to implement SOAR County wide so that people who are experiencing homelessness can have better access to housing and quality health care. I am originally from New York, but live in Fort Hood; my husband is a medic in the Army. We have 2 little boys. I have an associates degree in Education and Human Services; currently pursuing my bachelors in Community and Human Services. I have a little experience in the Human Services world; I am a former Investigator for Child Protective Services, a Community Schools Coordinator working to bridge the gap between the school and the community, assisting case managers for children and family services through the Mental Health Association and serving with AmeriCorps State as a mentor to our inner city youth.  I have also volunteered with REACH, an agency that provides services to victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Welcome New VISTA Members!
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