News Post

Introduction to Integrity Core Value Series
Becky Lipnick


Several years ago, Vista created a set of nine Core Values that describe what is important to us as we work to impact the lives of individuals with disabilities and the broader community. For 2022, we have chosen to focus our blog series on these Core Values - telling the story of our students and members and our organization through this important and powerful lens.

April Core Value Highlight: INTEGRITY

For this blog series, we will be focusing on the core value of Integrity. Integrity is deeply important for establishing relationships with others and being a valued member of the community. Through Vista’s counseling model, students and members develop relationships with their Program Counselors (PCs) that are built upon a foundation of integrity through mutual honesty, sincerity and trust.

Each new student is carefully assigned a Program Counselor in order to foster a good partnership. The Program Counselor is meant to be one of the student’s main guides at Vista, offering advice and support during the transition away from home.

Students develop their relationship with their Program Counselor through one-to-one counseling. During these discussions, the student can talk about their fears, struggles, homesickness, joys and the new relationships they are forming at Vista and in the greater community.

Vista staff members counseling students from the Discover Program

To have these meaningful conversations, it is important that each person is honest with the other. This can be a challenge for new students, particularly if they are nervous that they made a mistake of some kind. 

Will Goble, Student/Member Support Manager and former Discover Program Counselor, explains:

“A lot of the folks we support may feel uncomfortable sharing difficult news or telling the truth about something that has happened because throughout their lives, they have typically experienced punishments or contrived consequences when something they did wasn’t what they were ‘supposed to do.’ Often, others may have stepped in and taken over decision making for them. By listening, responding and partnering in problem solving rather than wrestling control away from the student, we can build trust and collaboration.”

As Will describes, Program Counselors and other Vista staff support students by actively listening and collaborating with them. Students can work with their Program Counselor to move forward when facing a problem while also realizing that their actions have natural consequences. By becoming comfortable opening up to others and taking ownership over their own decisions, students are able to grow into their authentic selves and take pride in carrying themselves with integrity.

A Vista student and staff member interacting in the Discover dormitory

As students graduate and transition into becoming Vista Engage members, they also switch from their Discover Program Counselor to an Engage Program Counselor. This is a transition within itself.

Program Counselor Keera Swan shares how demonstrating trust and integrity as a staff member is critical to forming these new relationships:

“It takes time and effort to build up trust and rapport with the members, but these are vital to achieve successful counseling. This was obvious when I first became a PC and initially met the members I was going to work with. They had all had a strong and meaningful bond with their previous Program Counselor and I had big shoes to fill. But by showing my members that I was someone that they could trust to be honest with them, not judge them and being someone that they could depend and rely on, we have been able to build that bond.”

It is exciting to watch the meaningful connections between students/members and staff blossom through a foundation of mutual trust and integrity. This supportive community is what allows us to imagine the possibilities.

More to come!