Madison Simms, Stepping Stones Shelter

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About her service as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Stepping Stones Shelter, University of Maryland graduate Madison reflects, “I chose to embark on this service year for many reasons. I felt that it would be the best way to accelerate my career right out of college. I also believe in the importance of volunteering as it can expose participants to charitable work for the pure enjoyment of the activity.”

Madison knows about the pleasure of volunteering from her own experience, explaining, “Last year I was able to volunteer with Trellis Services, a school that supports behavioral interventions for children diagnosed with Autism spectrum and related disorders. Because of this experience, I was able to confirm that I would love to pursue a career helping children with developmental and behavioral disorders.”

Madison sees this year as a bridge to that career, sharing, “Volunteer Maryland is providing me with the opportunity to gain and practice multiple valuable skills through this intense yet humanitarian position. These skills include leading others in service, public speaking skills, professional writing, and professional networking. While I’m unsure as to what my future holds, I want to be able to help others who can’t help themselves. My true passion is fostering healthy development for children in adversity.” 

Ellen Sangiamo, Shepherd’s Clinic

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A second-year Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at Shepherd’s Clinic and Joy Wellness Center, Ellen says, “I signed on to serve last year after having been a volunteer at the clinic for almost 2 years. I was initially drawn to volunteer when I heard Dr. Melissa DeLong speak of Shepherd’s Clinic’s mission to provide free, quality integrative healthcare to people who are unable to afford it. In addition to routine and specialty medical care, the clinic also has behavioral health providers and a wellness center that offers acupuncture, reflexology and craniosacral therapy. There are also classes in yoga, meditation, exercise and nutrition. The fact that the clinic is almost entirely volunteer-driven was the icing on the cake. I knew that I had to be a part of it.”

Ellen continues, “My first year as a VMC at Shepherd’s Clinic & Joy Wellness gave me the opportunity to become totally immersed and engaged in the cycle of volunteer program development.  I focused on recruitment, retention and volunteer appreciation. I  also had the opportunity to develop a new volunteer program, the Insurance Counseling Program.”

About her goals for a second year, Ellen explains, “This year, my focus is on sustaining the volunteer program, with all systems, policies and procedures fine-tuned and easily accessible.”

Ellen concludes by reflecting, “Now, after having served for one year I can say that I have never before felt the charge, energy, and deep satisfaction that comes from doing work that I feel passionately about alongside people who feel that same and share my optimism for effecting change. It has been a pivotal experience in my life and I look forward to the opportunity to serve for  a second year.”

 

Abby Doyle, MakingChange

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A graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Abby honed her leadership skills as manager of the college’s designated driving service, SafeRide. About that experience, she shares, “This job helped cultivate my professional skills while growing my love for helping a community.”

About her decision to serve, Abby explains, “I heard about Volunteer Maryland from a friend who had participated in the program the previous year. In my search for employment, I knew that I wanted to work in a collaborative environment that made a difference in my community. Serving as VMC with MakingChange seemed like the perfect fit! Although I know it will come with its set of challenges, I believe the reward of giving yourself over to a cause is worth it.”

Abby continues, “Over the course of my service year I would like to achieve several goals in my own personal growth and the growth of my community. I would like to gain a better understanding of what it is like working in a more traditional office space. I would also like to hone in on my communication skills, especially in the area of public speaking. Most importantly, I would like to expand my perspective, and the perspectives of my volunteers, on poverty in our local area.”

Nick Yoder, Carroll County Forestry Board

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A recent graduate of the University of Maryland Master of Landscape Architecture Program, Nick is passionate about designing and maintaining wildlife habitats. This passion drew him to the Carroll County Forestry Board. He explains, “There is very little quality habitat in Carroll County due to development and agriculture. Because of this, local wildlife is suffering; unable to find suitable habitat for shelter and food. Since development and agriculture have large sources of support and funding in general, and are overwhelming forces when contrasted with the ideal of protecting wildlife habitat, I want to be a steward of the environment.”  

Nick is especially excited about inspiring environmental stewardship in others, explaining “I’m serving as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator because I want to become more comfortable with recruiting and managing volunteers. I have some management experience, but I have very little experience recruiting people for a greater cause and figuring out how to keep each volunteer motivated.”

As he serves, Nick says, “I just want to keep learning more about plant and animal identification, managing invasive species, and growing native plants. Whether I decide to go into management or design, I think this experience will be a stepping stone for my confidence and my career.”

Chigo Oguh, Dundalk Renaissance Corporation

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After completing two years of study toward a PharmD degree at the University of Maryland, Temple University graduate Chigo decided to press pause.

She explains, “I am taking a year off from my PharmD program, and I felt that during this year I should keep up with the motivation that got me into the program, which is the desire to serve others. I was very fortunate to meet a few people who served with Americorps and to learn how the program worked. I felt that Volunteer Maryland had a structure that would allow me to reach my fullest potential during my service year.”

Chigo is serving as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, where she will recruit volunteers who will assist older adults and people with disabilities by performing home maintenance and repairs, providing transportation to appointments and events, and aiding access to food and health care.

As she serves, Chigo hopes to accomplish a number of professional goals, saying, “I am hoping to gain a wider network outside of the field of pharmacy and the skills needed to revitalize a community. This fits into my long-term goals of providing and bringing attention to the care of underserved communities in and out of Baltimore City. With these skills and a positive attitude, I believe I can be an agent of lasting change to the healthcare system.”

Kaity Breidenbach, Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County

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Kaity remembers the exact moment when she new the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator position was her for, explaining, “When Molly Hilligoss, the Executive Director with Habitat For Humanity of Wicomico County, told me there was an AmeriCorps position that involved recruiting volunteers, I knew I should apply.”

She further explains that when she interviewed, “Molly gave me a brief overview of Wicomico Habitat. She was very passionate about the organization and so knowledgeable.  I could immediately tell this would be a great opportunity.”

Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County, Inc. is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry that builds and then sells homes to low-income families who would never otherwise be able to achieve the dream of home ownership. Kaity will recruit volunteers who will help with construction of Habitat houses.  

In terms of professional development, Kaity is clear about her goals for the year, saying, “While doing this service year with Habitat For Humanity of Wicomico County, I hope to improve my time management skills. I also look forward to revamping my computer/Microsoft/web skills.”

Adeyinka Taiwo, Montgomery County Community Action Agency

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When asked about her motivation for serving, Yinka immediately mentions a cause very close to her heart — Sickle Cell Disease. Yinka’s personal experience with this illness has motivated her to serve others who experience a range of challenges. As Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Montgomery County Community Action Agency, she will have that opportunity.

The Montgomery County Community Action Agency, a recent recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Service Award, coordinates local, State, federal and private resources to help low-income individuals and families. Yinka will work with CAA programs and partners, including the VITA program and Maryland Hunger Solutions.

As a UMBC grad and UMUC student, Yinka is passionate about continuing to learn. During her year with Volunteer Maryland, she explains, “I want to develop skills recruiting volunteers and running successful programs. I need volunteers who understand the issue and believe in the program.”

 

Maggie Straub, Crossroads Community, Inc.

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Maggie, a recent Virginia Military Institute grad, remembers when she fell in love with service, saying, “My interest in service started when I volunteered as a 4-H camp counselor throughout my high school years. I loved working with the kids. Serving as a counselor sparked my interest in the 4-H association as a whole, and I joined a club called Teens In Action, which revolved around volunteer service. Through my participation as a volunteer counselor and in this club, I gave over 1,000 hours of service throughout my high school years.”

With this background, Maggie was immediately drawn to Volunteer Maryland. “The second I heard about Volunteer Maryland,” she explains, “I knew this was something I wanted to do. Coming out of college I wasn’t sure of my path or how to get my foot in the world of service and nonprofits, but I saw that Volunteer Maryland would give me the chance to learn while applying my new knowledge in real time throughout the year.”

“The biggest thing I want to gain from this year of service is how to manage volunteers who have different personalities and backgrounds while believing in the mission of Crossroads Community,” a nonprofit that empower individuals with behavioral health needs to live satisfying and productive lives. “I really want to take this learning experience and apply it to my next step in life, hopefully in the nonprofit sector.”

Kady Fulwood, Cornerstone Montgomery

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Kady, who has a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a master’s degree in Management specializing in Human Resources Management from UMUC, is a native Washingtonian from military family. About herself she shares, “I have had a longstanding love for scientific innovations. This was nurtured in me by my mother and grandfather, both of which were huge Star Trek fans. To this day, I have watched all of the episodes of the original run of Star Trek and most, if not all, of the episodes of the 4 spin-offs from the original show.”

Kady will be serving as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Cornerstone Montgomery, a nonprofit that empowers people living with mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders to live, work, and integrate successfully within the community. About her service, Kady explains, “I want to be a factor in more people understanding that mental illness has nothing to do with the worth or value of a person. My goal for this service year is to help destigmatize mental illness by showing the greater community that mental illness, like any other illness, is something that can be managed and should not lead to isolation of those who deal with it.”

Along the way, Kady says, “I would like to strengthen my social media marketing skills, my technical writing skills and my ability to strengthen a program throughout every point in the program life cycle.”

Annette Ritchie, Neighborhood Design Center

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A recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering, Annette aspires to become an urban planner. Along with this aspiration comes the belief that, as Annette puts it, “the purpose of my life is simply to improve the lives of others.”

She goes on to say, “I am confident that the structure and mission of Volunteer Maryland will allow me to make meaningful change through my service year.” Annette will be able to pair her interest in urban planning with her love of service as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) in Baltimore. NDC’s mission is to mobilize pro-bono design services in support of community-sponsored initiatives to improve local neighborhood livability and viability.

“Working with the Neighborhood Design Center is a dream come true,” Annette shares, “As an aspiring urban planner, this opportunity represents a chance to gain specialized experience, develop a network of contacts, and learn about the nonprofit side of urban development. Beyond these personal benefits and other technical skills that I will gain, I cannot imagine a more satisfying way to effect change during my AmeriCorps year.”