Today is my final day of work with Volunteer Maryland. It’s funny to think about how I’ve been anticipating this day. At various points it’s seemed impossibly far away, impossibly soon, and just plain impossible (this job is going to end? That’s crazy talk!). Now that it’s here though, it of course feels like any other day. As much as it feels like a normal day, I know that next week change will be here.
I have mentioned a few times that I have had the privilege of working with Camp Fire USA as a host site, and I’m happy to say that I will be reporting to the same office come Monday morning as a program manager. Suffice it to say, I would not have come across- or been qualified for- this position without Volunteer Maryland. I will be running an after school club at Takoma Park Middle School, which will be a combination of public speaking, meeting facilitation and service project planning. All three of those are things that I was literally incapable of two years ago and which I’ve been able to fumble through with the patience of the staff at Renewing Life Family Center, Inc. and Volunteer Maryland. After two years of providing indirect service and studying best practices, it’s going to be a radical change to get up in front of teens and actually provide programming. I have participated in training about meeting facilitation and have even created and presented a webinar on it, and I’m both eager and nervous to put those theories I’ve studied into practice.
Then on Tuesday classes start, which is exciting and terrifying in its own way. Two years ago, I was in a complete rut and had no idea how to combine my passions into a career path. During this past year though, I’ve decided that studying dietetics and public health is a great way to bring together many interests of mine. Whether I wind up at an organization finding ways to affordably and adequately feed vulnerable populations, at a community garden with an outreach program or advocating for bringing local produce to food deserts, I have no doubt that I can bring an expertise in dietetics to the nonprofit world in a fulfilling way.
Besides having found some sort of direction, even the logistics of going to school full-time for the foreseeable future would not have been logistically possible without my VISTA experience, either. Our program manager Maureen was able to get me in touch with Camp Fire USA, where I can work part-time in a meaningful way. The education award will help defray the costs of school over the next several years, and my experience with living on a stipend has given me the ability to thrive even with limited income. All in all, I feel like I’m in a very good place moving forward.
To each and every person I’ve met over the past two years: thank you. I have confidence and networks both personally and professionally that I would have never thought possible, and I see this as only the beginning of great things. In the succinct words of Garrison Keillor: be well, do good work, and keep in touch.