To Service, Step by Step

Hello, and welcome to the Volunteer Maryland blog!  This may be your first time here, but don’t worry, you are not alone!  This is my first time posting here!  My name is Megan Stransky and I am one of two Regional Coordinators for Volunteer Maryland Class 23 (VM23).  As a Regional Coordinator (RC), I’ll be supporting a fabulous group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs), providing them with resources, assisting them with service projects, and sharing their successes with you, our lovely audience!  I have yet to meet these wonderful people, but I’m excited to get to do that tomorrow at the start of our Pre-Service Training!  Woohoo!

The path that brought me to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland was long and strange, to say the least.  My community service journey began in third grade with Girl Scouts.  I was a Girl Scout for nine years, earning my Silver Award during that time.  I left Girl Scouting when I went away to college and took a year off of service.  I spent my first year at the University of Maryland, College Park studying physics and astronomy and humoring my crazy roommate by listening to her stories about this service organization she was in, Circle K International.  Well, long story short, that crazy roommate became one of my best friends in college and succeeded in dragging me to one of those club meetings, onto the Executive Board when she became President of UMD Circle K, and into a whole new chapter of my life.  And thank goodness for that!

During my sophomore year at University of Maryland, I discovered another great community service opportunity—the Alternative Spring Break Program (ASB).  ASB gives students an opportunity to do something productive during their spring break by sending groups of students to various cities around the United States to perform community service and learn about the unique issues that city faces.  I participated in ASB for three years, once as a trip member and twice as a trip leader, travelling to the Florida Keys, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, and Cartago, Costa Rica.  Every trip and every group of people I travelled with was unique and different.  As a trip leader, I saw my participants grow and change through their service experience.  They learned about themselves and they came to understand service not as charity but as a means to empower a community to take back its future and reshape itself.  I take pride in knowing that I was part of that process, that in some small way I helped my participants have such a great service experience.

It may be selfish, but the feeling of pride I got from ASB and the knowledge that I could continue to change other people’s lives is what drew me to AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland.  When I graduated from University of Maryland in May 2009 and finally had to acknowledge that I was no longer part of ASB, I started searching for job opportunities that would bring me that feeling of pride and the knowledge that I was changing lives once again.  I found an opening serving as a VMC with the Cylburn Arboretum Association and spent a year recruiting high school and college student volunteers.  Since that just wasn’t enough service for me, I came back to Volunteer Maryland for one more year, but this time as a Regional Coordinator.  I look forward to watching my VMCs learn and grow and I hope that my service experiences—from Girl Scouting, to ASB, to VM—can help them in their journeys as well.

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