Today marks a huge transition for Volunteer Maryland’s VISTA program, and for my roles as a VISTA Leader. Today is the last day of service for 16 of our VM VISTA members! Thank you Ali, Andrea, Christina, Erica, Hanna, Hattie, Janice, Jennifer, Jonathan , Keila, Kit, Rachel, Rebecca, Renee, Sarah and Tim! The accomplishments you have achieved over the past twelve months are truly staggering and I am proud to have played even a small role in this class. Thank you for being patient as I flubbed my way through our first webinar, rambled on at trainings, and likely gave a few less-than-helpful answers to questions you have had (and followed up 10 minutes later with conflicting information after asking someone who was more familiar with the topic at hand). Thank you also for gracefully handling nervous phone calls and member visits, as I slowly became comfortable with providing support as a leader.
Thank you most of all for working through a tough year in order to provide critical structure to organizations which are bettering our state. It would be a major accomplishment for anyone to take over a marketing campaign, write complete bilingual curricula, write winning grants, or start a mentoring program from scratch. You have been able to do these things (and countless others!) in only one short year. on top of that, you’ve been at new organizations and have created materials and/or trained staff to ensure your project can live on. The dedication and passion you have shown is truly moving and I have absolutely no doubt that you will continue to achieve great things in future careers. I can’t wait to hear word of alumni news, make sure you keep in touch!
On the other end of the spectrum, today is also the first day I will meet 16 brand new Volunteer Maryland VISTA members! After spending three days in Philadelphia for Pre-Service Orientation, they will spend one day with us so we can all meet each other, explain Volunteer Maryland’s role in their service year, and send them on their way! On Monday, they will begin working at their host sites and really get a feel for what this year will bring. I very clearly remember my own Pre-Service Orientation two years ago, and how excited and motivated and downright petrified the experience left me. After spending time with hundreds of like-minded people who had the same anxieties and the same idealism as myself, and after spending three days without a single person asking why on Earth I would ever want to join AmeriCorps VISTA, it was scary to think that the big comfortable training was over and we were being left to actually attempt what we’d been discussing.
The very beginning of a service year is full of energy- you have your goals on paper but don’t yet know your organization well, may not have seen your desk, and don’t have solid plans on how to begin. Many members have moved from out of state, so on top of that there are the anxieties and excitement of discovering a new area. It’s a chance for complete renewal both personally and professionally. Suffice it to say, I think these 16 individuals will have a lot on their minds and I’m looking forward to being around that excitement. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here at the beginning of their year of service and to have already had a bit of experience, so hopefully I can help them start their year well.