This week I’m going to stray a bit from the path and relate a story from my life. It’s not about technology, but it is about the importance of networks, how grateful I am for the network I have found through Volunteer Maryland, and a call to hear your stories about networks.
To do this story justice I have to start from the beginning- September 2009, the start of my VMC year. I had been in Baltimore all of 2 weeks, during which time I had procured a job, an apartment, and a new sense of freedom and adventure, but I was lacking in two departments- friends, and transportation. Luckily, VM helped me with both! I didn’t have a car, and our first day of Volunteer Maryland pre-service training was beyond the reach of the Baltimore City public transit system. Patrice (VM’s Outreach Manager) gave me a few names of people to try carpooling with, and Michael Nealis graciously offered to give me a ride. Over the course of the next year, I would turn to Michael and a number of my other Volunteer Maryland friends for rides when I needed to get somewhere outside of Baltimore, or when they didn’t want to wait for me to take an hour to get to them on the bus.
I put some stock in karma, so I was ecstatic when I finally got a car this past January, and could start offering rides to all the people who had helped me out, especially to Volunteer Maryland trainings. So, for this past Wednesday’s VISTA training, I offered a ride to Michael and a VISTA member.
Unfortunately, disaster struck! My car died just as we were passing Columbia, and I pulled off into the parking lot of a library. I called AAA, but they were going to take more than an hour to get there, and all of the other staff members were stuck in traffic, unable to come by and pick Michael and the VISTA member up to bring them the rest of the way to the training.
That’s when we tapped into the magic of the Volunteer Maryland network. One of the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, Sooyoung, works quite near where we were stranded, and luckily she was available to come and save the day! She brought the other two to the training, and I was able to stay and get my car fixed. The other staff members kept in touch with me all day to make sure I was alright, and to see if I needed any more help, which I really appreciated.
I am really grateful to work for an organization where the people are always willing to jump in and lend a hand. Don’t get me wrong, everyone pulls their own weight, and we certainly expect a lot from ourselves and our teammates. But, there is also always someone there to help you pick yourself up, dust you off, and make sure you get on your way again. I think it is one of the greatest strengths that any organization can have.
This is not always inherent in an organization… sometimes this attitude needs to be cultivated. That’s why I’m curious- does anyone have any stories, comments, or suggestions on how to cultivate an attitude of support in a group, whether it’s a large national nonprofit, or a small group of volunteers? Any and all comments are welcome!