AmeriCorps + Me = Happiness

Explaining my reasons to join AmeriCorps is always an adventure. I say this not because of what I tell people, but because of the wide range of responses I receive. When people hear about how much the living stipend is, typically the response is, “Are you crazy!?” Yes, I might be crazy, but, no matter the confusion, most are intrigued and refreshed by the positive energy that I cannot help but exude when I share my experiences.

AmeriCorps has changed my life in more ways than I can describe to you in this one post. Through this experience I have received a whole new meaning of community and the power of positive change that people can make. My eyes have been opened to new perspectives and my passion for helping others has been renewed.

As an optimistic, freshly out of college, looking for answers young adult, AmeriCorps was the ideal next step in my life. From fall 2008 to the summer of 2009 I spent 11 months as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator (VMC), a state AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland, at the Montgomery County Volunteer Center in Rockville, MD. I helped to manage, train, and recruit for three volunteer programs: the Language Bank, a group of volunteers who serve as interpreters and translators for registered nonprofits and government agencies; the Emergency Action Team, community members who assist the county during local emergencies; and the A-Team, volunteers who help publicize the Center’s events/services as well as help community members find meaningful volunteer opportunities. Working in the community of Montgomery County, where I grew up in, was a rewarding and very fun experience. I learned so much from not only the wonderful staff of the Volunteer Center but from the dedication and compassion of others in the community.

Because I just could not get enough of the AmeriCorps world, this past summer I decided to take on another year with Volunteer Maryland, but this time as a Regional Coordinator (RC). In this role I am supporting a group of 9 VMCs (out of the 36 in the state program) who are working at organizations in Baltimore, Annapolis, and locations on the Eastern Shore. I provide them with resources, guidance, and enthusiasm as they work hard throughout the year. I absolutely love being a part of these incredible individuals’ lives.

So why continue reading? My goal for this journey is simple. I aim to make you the coolest fly on the wall of my life: for you to be a part of the relationships I have with the members, learn more about the powerful impact the members are making in their communities, discover some new resources, and even learn more about my development throughout the year (including my own volunteer work I am doing throughout the state).

I look forward to sharing with you these great experiences. I invite you to comment, discuss, and question my thoughts and observations.

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7 thoughts on “AmeriCorps + Me = Happiness

  1. Mary Aceituno

    Hi Laura,
    As your Mom, I know first hand that you have always had a passion for helping other people as well as a compassionate heart for those less fortunate than you. The words and spirit, not only from you, but also your friends and colleagues, prove that those in your generation really do have a caring heart and true commitment to a greater cause than self. I am so very proud of you, Laura, and look forward to reading the Volunteer Maryland blog as you continue your journey in AmeriCorps.

  2. Suzanne Boyer

    Thank you for sharing your comments, Laura. Not only is it quite informative and interesting, but your passion certainly shines through. The wonderful way that you describe your “journey” is only enhanced by your sincere effort to help others.

    1. Laura

      Thanks for the kind words, Lucy! The volunteers I worked with are very dedicated to the mission of the Mont. County Volunteer Center and it was a pleasure working with and getting to know them. Good luck with the rest of your VISTA year!

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