We’ve been in training for a week and things are pretty great – if a bit tiring for all of us! Today we spent a full day on aspects of volunteer recruitment. As Volunteer Coordinators, our AmeriCorps members will all get a good taste of volunteer recruitment this year. To get started this morning, everyone shared a bit about how they were recruited for this service year. In small groups, we heard about how they wanted to join AmeriCorps or were looking for a job or someone they knew contacted them about the opportunity. What’s always so interesting, though, is the passion that actually got them to this point.
See, the members of Class 23 may not know it, but they had a lot of competition this year. We received around 300 applications for the 33 positions that we had available. We now have 27 full-time and six part-time AmeriCorps members who are truly interested in meeting a community need and dedicated to the idea of doing so through volunteer program development. Each of them shined through the application, screening, and placement process – and they just keep on shining through what can be a pretty intensive training experience.
Some people mistakenly think that AmeriCorps members are blank slates or folks who come into their roles with no experience. This class continues to dispel this myth. Here are some of the interesting things I’ve learned from some of our new members in just one week:
- They are incredibly well-traveled. One spent a summer working with a bear cub in Bolivia. One walked across the Israeli border while on a trip from studies in Egypt. Collectively, they’ve been to Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, England, Guatemala, France, and more.
- They are artists and teachers. We have two violinists (one who has been playing professionally for 16 years; another played with an orchestra in England, Scotland, and Wales). There’s a certified ESL instructor and a swing dance instructor. Another is learning to salsa dance and someone else recently picked up the mandolin. (I think I’m going to learn a lot this year that I never expected!)
- They are incredibly intelligent. One spent two years researching the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. Another was selected as a Hollings Scholar by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- They are natural volunteers. One founded the Washington College Haiti Relief Project, raising $1,300 in just one week. Another was a parent volunteer at Bryn Mawr School and Garrison School in Baltimore. Still another volunteered with the Boys and Gorls Club of New River Valley…and the list goes on and on!
- We also have a tri-athlete, a cross country runner, a junior US tennis player, gardeners, a scuba diver, graduates of the University of Maryland, Goucher College, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and dozens of other great colleges and universities, and people with fabulously quirky traits like a love of ketchup.
It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by such a diverse, talented, smart group of people who are all looking to improve Maryland communities. They have made the first week of training a great deal of fun and brought a lot of knowledge and experience to our discussions. With a week left to go, I’m excited to keep learning from them as they get ready to jump into their service year.