According to Energize, Inc., this week was Random Acts of Kindness Week. We here at VM experienced a random act of kindness on Wednesday when some lovely, anonymous person left a basketful (that’s right, a BASKETFUL!) of Peppermint Patties in our hallway! (Alas, they barely made it through the day…) While candy-centric RAKs (that’s Random Acts of Kindness) are truly appreciated here at the VM office, our AmeriCorps members are out there carrying out somewhat less random (and less candy-filled) acts of kindness in their own way every day. I’m talking about service.
Maureen kicked off RAK week on Monday by talking about her love of service and I’d like to end it by talking about the amazing acts of kindness all of our members have dedicated a year of their lives to doing. When you think of acts of kindness, you may not immediately relate an AmeriCorps service year to that idea. But I personally think that dedicating a year of your life (or more) to making the world a better place is a huge act of kindness. AmeriCorps members receive a living stipend that generally puts them pretty darn close to the poverty line (hence the term living stipend, AmeriCorps isn’t meant to get you rich!) and many of them work more than 40 hours a week just to make sure the programs they run succeed. They join AmeriCorps programs knowing their year is going to be hard, but they do it anyway because they care about serving others and they know that, if not for them, the work would not get done, the people in need would not be served, and the world would be slightly (or significantly) worse for it. I call that kindness.
I’d like to share with you just a small sampling of some of the acts of kindness that our AmeriCorps members are carrying out this year. Please keep reading to see that sample or check out our website for a little more detail.
Our Volunteer Maryland Coordinator (VMC) at AT:LAST, Inc., is helping eliminate the barriers to an independent life faced by many elderly and disabled individuals.
Our VISTA member at Project PLASE is developing a Speakers Bureau to raise awareness of issues relating to homelessness and to serve the homeless of Baltimore.
Our VMC at Barclay Elementary School is recruiting volunteers to read to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, which may lead to a decrease in dropout rate and help bring these students out of poverty.
Our VISTA member at NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore is helping raise awareness of biologically based brain disorders and to the suffering that such disorders can bring to families and individuals.
Our VMC at St. Francis Neighborhood Center is helping to break the cycle of poverty through education, self-improvement, and strengthening of connections among community members.
Our VISTA at Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association is raising funds to help with refugee resettlement and the advancement of the Vietnamese American population in Maryland.
Our VMC at Lower Shore Land Trust is helping to preserve the environment, protect the natural heritage of the Eastern Shore, and educate land owners about the benefits of land conservation.