This year, the VM24 class has been divided into two regions, with the Peer Leaders being myself and Barb. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to my region of fifteen Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs), Hakuna Matata! This is a Swahili phrase that translates as “No worries or no problem” and is from (you guessed it) The Lion King. No matter how old you get, you never quite out grow Disney films. This year we chose a name that suits each of our personalities and describes how we’re going to forge ahead this service year.
On last Friday, Hakuna Matata met for our first regional roundtable, at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. These regional roundtables (formerly known as regional meetings) are essential because they give us opportunities to exchange resources, share memorable moments of the year, and keep everyone up to date on our individual projects. Part of my role as a Peer Leader is to organize these roundtables so that they are collectively beneficial and enhance the AmeriCorps/VMC experience. Our roundtable last week opened with the VMCs sharing their “rose” (a high) and “thorn” (a low) for the first month. Highs and lows are expected with any position, and the VMCs who did share “thorns” were shown support and each of them remained positive and enthusiastic about the tasks that lay ahead at their Service Sites. Several VMCs did not have any thorns and were perfect roses!
Following the “rose and thorn” segment, we discussed the work plan due at the end of October. Looking back on my year as a VMC in VM23, I recognize how important the work plan is to successfully completing the service year. This document details the responsibilities of the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator and his/her Service Site, in compliance with the partnership established with Volunteer Maryland. The work plan requires much attention because it will be a reference tool and resource throughout the year to accomplishing the goals of all parties involved. Whenever I had questions (as a VMC) about what I should be doing, I could easily pull out my work plan and refocus to finish all necessary assignments. It was also helpful so see how much I accomplished at the end of the year, by comparing my work plan to my final report. I have a feeling the VMCs this year, will notice how handy the work plan is too. =)
Now that Hakuna Matata has had one regional roundtable and I have been give feedback, planning for future meetings should be a breeze. Not only will we share stories and exchange resources, but we will do service projects together; volunteering as a group for an important cause. There are so many excellent nonprofit organizations in Maryland, so we picked the right state to serve in. After all, that is what being an AmeriCorps member is all about….service, service, service! We have some of the best jobs in the world.