Continuing the Conversation

It’s hard to believe, but Wednesday was our second to last training for the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators of class 23!  Wow, how the year has flown!  We’ll have one more training in June with our VISTAs and end the year in August with a Finale celebration where we’ll reflect on the accomplishments of this amazing class of VMCs.  Three and a half months to go…

This week’s training was a Joint Training Day with the VMCs and their Site Supervisors.  We haven’t been together as a whole group since Pre-Service Training (PST) due to the snow that hit right in time for our January training day and the atmosphere at this training was totally different from the atmosphere at PST.  There was constant conversation between the Site Supervisors and VMCs of different sites, a tangible sense of partnership, accomplishment, and collaboration.  Our fearless leader, Maureen, often had to shout to make herself heard when it was time to switch activities (I’m not complaining, by the way, I was excited to see the resource and idea sharing that was going on).  Maybe it was the sense of urgency, with only three and a half months left in this service year (eek!), maybe it was simply that people were more familiar and more comfortable with the way Volunteer Maryland does things, but it seemed to me that people made really great use of this time together.

Our day started off with a fitting discussion of sustainability.  We talked about what the VMCs have accomplished so far (over 5,000 volunteers recruited and managed, who served over 35,000 hours!) and what their plans are for the next few months.  We talked about the challenges faced in sustaining a volunteer program, but also in sustaining a nonprofit in this tight economy.  We ate a delicious lunch and the sites that applied for a second partnership year with Volunteer Maryland got a chance to meet and ask questions about how a second year works.  (By the way, if you’ve never partnered with us but would like to, applications are being accepted until April 22, click here!)  In the afternoon, Dana Schwartz, with Business Volunteers Unlimited Maryland, gave a great presentation on engaging corporate volunteers.  Her presentation generated a ton of discussion on how nonprofits can better work with corporations as volunteers and as donors and also on the challenges nonprofits face in engaging corporate volunteers.  If you think corporate volunteers could help your nonprofit, check out BVU’s website for more information.

With so many nonprofits increasing their activities in the summer, it is easy for thoughts of sustainability to get lost in the shuffle.  This training was a great chance for our VMCs and their Site Supervisors to step back, take a deep breath, and think about where things are going from here.  While I’m slightly terrified that the year is ending so soon, I’m glad I could be part of such a productive conversation.  Here’s wishing all of our VMCs luck in their last few months and congratulations on all the hard work they’ve put in so far!

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