These past couple of posts, I’ve focused on my busy schedule as a Regional Coordinator (RC) with Volunteer Maryland. As you all know, Destination AmeriCorps is coming up (among other things) and the ensuing activity on mine and Megan’s part is mind boggling. That being said, it has been a bit of a struggle balancing my activities with my responsibilities as an RC.
One of my main responsibilities is supporting this year’s class of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs) which includes anything from providing them with resources for volunteer management to hosting monthly regional meetings. I enjoy being able to provide targeted and applicable information to VMCs who in turn, can use that information to help make their year a success both professionally and personally.
Last week, Megan spoke about checking in with Volunteer Maryland’s VISTA members. This week, I will be talking about another part of the RC role that I really enjoy is the weekly check-ins that I do with VMCs. Because I don’t really consider myself much of a conversationalist, my enjoyment of speaking with VMCs about their accomplishments and their challenges on a weekly basis surprised me. I genuinely am interested in the programs and projects that they are starting and to be able to give them a sounding board on which they can share their accomplishments and challenges is rewarding; for me, at least.
I enjoy check-ins so much for a few reasons. First, they often provide me with a break from my day. A lot of the work that I do involves typing on the computer. That’s it. Whether I’m researching virtual volunteering best practices or sending an email blast to event attendees, the only time that I converse with other humans is if I have something to share with another co-worker, if someone comes to the copier (located about 5 feet from my desk), or if I have lunch with my co-workers. When I check in with VMCs, I get to actually talk to another person rather than my computer (which I regularly scream at in frustration).
Secondly, check-ins allow me to share in the firsthand impact of VMCs serving at their various host organizations. As I previously pointed out, I am a service NUT! I get super excited when I hear the creative and innovative ways that VMCs are recruiting and engaging volunteers. Further, it’s exciting to see how VMCs are engaging their own personal and professional interests within their positions. One VMC is collaborating with another organization to create a green curriculum to be used for Baltimore City-sponsored summer programming. Another VMC put together an awareness event for middle and high school students on the misconceptions surrounding disabilities. Another VMC conducted an environmental cleanup that yielded almost 2000 pounds of trash and debris! The fact that I am able to share in these successes is what makes check-ins so enjoyable.
Further still, while working at Volunteer Maryland has been a really eye-opening experience, I unfortunately don’t really have much of an opportunity to work directly to meet important community needs like poverty alleviation, or youth development, or even environmental conservation. Our office is located smack dab in the middle of a government agency, thus it is extremely professional and, well, quiet; at times, unnervingly so. When I check in with VMCs, it allows me a small glimpse of that direct service work that I love so much. I tell them all the time during our check-ins that I live vicariously through those conversations (not creepy at all, right?) and that I really do look forward to those updates.
This time of year is so busy for everyone, I just hope VMCs don’t start ignoring my phone calls!