In the Sound of Music, Maria has the Von Trapp family children sing a song about their favorite things to help ease their fears. While blogging is not really the ideal medium to break into song, this weekend I found myself reflecting on my favorite things about my past two years with Volunteer Maryland, both to remember all the great times I have had, and to soothe my fears about what lies before me after my job ends on Tuesday. I have grown so much, laughed so much, and in the process created some things that have affected people in a positive way during my time with Volunteer Maryland. Because of these experiences, while I may not be entirely rid of my fears of the future, I do feel much more prepared. So, without further ado, I give to you my list of Top Ten Favorite Things about my time with Volunteer Maryland (in no particular order):
10. I will be eternally grateful for the chance to work with Citizenship Law Related Education Program and their Baltimore City Teen Court program. I have volunteered there throughout this past year, and am re-inspired every time I go, by the teens, the volunteers, and the staff.
9. Having my car break down and the rallying support from VM members.
8. Dance Break Fridays. Since this is not widely known, I’ll explain—fellow VM blogger Laura brought this tradition with her from the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. You know how on Fridays you can kind of hit a wall, where all you want is the weekend to start, but you still have five things to finish before you can leave? Well, Dance Break Fridays (or DBF as we affectionately call it) is the perfect cure for this. We pick a song, usually something like the Macarena or Cupid Shuffle, and all take five minutes to dance our hearts out. It’s the perfect re-energizer, and embodies the spirit of balancing play with hard work that Volunteer Maryland carries off so well. 🙂
7. When I came to Pre-Service Training back at the beginning of my VMC year, the first person I met was Sandy Giangrande. We had a great discussion about music, I having sang for most of my life in choirs and she having recently retired from teaching music. It was such a wonderful introduction to the amazing friends I would meet through this experience, and I am still very happy to be able to call Sandy my friend.
6. Building my training skills, both in creating and facilitating trainings.
5. Learning to embrace my affiliator side.
4. Learning how to film, edit, and publish videos.
3. After researching, compiling, writing, editing, and re-editing, on Friday I was able to provide our VISTA members with training toolbooks to help them during their terms of VISTA service. It was extremely gratifying to see all the work I put into these Toolbooks finally be put to good use.
2. Getting to travel all around the state of Maryland to witness and participate in the work that our AmeriCorps members do. Some of my favorites were helping to serve lunch at Paul’s Place, teaching children about horseshoe crabs on Philip’s Wharf Environmental Center’s Fishmobile, and canoeing down Deer Creek at Eden Mill Nature Center.
1. All the amazing people I have met, who are committed to something greater than themselves. It is so inspiring to work with people who are passionate about their jobs, and who give their all every day to make small gains for change in their communities.
So thanks VM, for the good times, challenges overcome, lessons learned, and true friends.