Today is the last day of the service year for Volunteer Maryland’s twenty-second class of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. The past year has been an amazing demonstration of the impact that individuals can have on their communities. The class recruited and managed 6,233 volunteers who served 73,423 hours and 53,208 clients. The numbers are staggering. Even after working with this class of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators for a year, I’m still amazed by their passion and vigor whenever they all come together like they are today.
Watching the members grow over the past year has been amazing. From their first day of pre-service training back in September when no one was quite sure what they’d gotten themselves into (except maybe the members serving their second year), to today when the members completely own the causes they’ve worked for the past year, each member has grown more than they could have possibly foreseen.
I know that I’ve grown over my two years of service with Volunteer Maryland. I’ve done things that two years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would have been able to do. My voice no longer shakes when I need it to be strongest. I’ve become a stronger leader, and realized that I have to always strive to be worthy of the people who I lead. I’ve moved from a strictly academic interest in volunteerism to a passion that helps to fuel everything I’ve done for the past two years.
I’ve had the honor of working with people who are driven and are righteous. Without the Volunteer Maryland staff, I’m not sure I would have made it through this year. They are pillars of strength, and supportive beyond what could be expected. Working with them has made every victory sweeter, and every setback easier to bear, because it was all done as part of a team. There was not a single moment over the past two years that I felt alone in anything that I did.
After two years of service I’m moving on. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little scared. The past two years have been so hard, but they’ve been wonderful at the same time. I’ve met so many wonderful people, had so many amazing experiences, and have learned and grown so much.
Today, though, I’m moving on. I’m not sure where to yet. What I am sure of, is that at the end of the day there will be very few dry eyes. After all of the goodbyes are said, friends are embraced, tears are cried, and all of us go our separate ways and into our own futures, one thing will remain. This is the hardest job that I’ve ever loved.
I am AmeriCorps, and I always will be.