A World of Opportunities: How AmeriCorps Worked for Rose Carey

As part of our celebration of AmeriCorps Week, we’re highlighting how AmeriCorps worked for VM alumni.  This is just one of many success stories!

“It’s worthwhile.  Even at my age, I’ve learned so much.”

A lifetime worth of enrichment

Rose Carey, retired from the working for the State after 32 years, was looking for part-time work.  She contacted the Holly Center, a resident facility for the developmentally disabled, for that purpose: finding work.  Their response?  We need help recruiting volunteers.

Thus, Rose began working with the Holly Center and helping with volunteer recruitment.  It wasn’t until three months working with the Center that an opportunity presented itself in the form of an AmeriCorps position as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator.  Rose spent two years with the Holly Center as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator.  She was charged with recruiting volunteers for the organization as well as for special events, including the Special Olympics where she recruited over 200 volunteers!   The Center has hosted this event for eight years since its inception during Rose’s service year.

Rose stands next to the banner that displays her photo everywhere we go!

Unexpected Connections

Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Rose spent most of her professional career working as a secretary within State government.  Serving as an AmeriCorps member through Volunteer Maryland provided her with many different and unexpected opportunities.  Rose was now in a position where she was surrounded by people from different backgrounds and age groups.  She was pleasantly surprised to find that as an older adult, she thrived off of the energy and enthusiasm of her younger colleagues.  She was also surprised at the fact that she was able to develop and maintain friendships with those younger colleagues.

Further, living on the Eastern Shore means living with an understanding that the area is somewhat geographically isolated from the rest of Maryland.  Being able to attend Volunteer Maryland trainings and regional meetings provided her with an opportunity to travel within the state and made her more aware of the state of Maryland and its diversity.

A Trained Professional

“I’m glad to have been a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator.  It enriched my life.”  

When the opportunity originally presented itself, Rose did not think that being a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator meant enrolling in an actual program where she would learn the foundation pieces for becoming an effective manager of volunteers.  She attended the Volunteer Maryland trainings, learned about volunteer management, and put what she learned into practice.  While Rose had had some previous work experience dealing with people, she had never actively recruited individuals.  As a secretary, Rose was used to doing things a certain way and following a step by step process.  After working with the Holly Center and Volunteer Maryland, she’s come to realize that everything is not so “by the book.”

“It taught me how to deal with people in the day to day experience.  Every volunteer is different; every volunteer does so for different reasons.”

Addicted to Travel

“I wish, in some ways, that I could have done this when I was younger. It has changed my life.  I feel so fortunate. Without my AmeriCorops experience, I wouldn’t have done so much.”

After retirement, Rose made the decision that she wanted to take some time and travel.  Aside from family vacations to Mexico, she had never been outside of the country.  Thanks to her Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, Rose was able to do just that.  She arranged her first trip through Delaware Technical Community College; it was a trip to Mexico.  She stayed with a Mexican family, learned Spanish, and took tours of the surrounding area.  It was the beginning of a wonderful addiction.  Next, Rose used some of her award to travel to Turkey.  She had the opportunity to visit a mosque during prayer and experienced the culture firsthand.  Still having funds left, she traveled to Scotland to take a course on Administration.  She visited the Post Office and the Embassy.  She also went to Ireland.  The following year she traveled to Vietnam on her own (not using her Award) and took time to tour the country.  She visited three orphanages and participated in several service projects.  Rose recalls that while traveling, she met so many people younger than herself who had no problems finding these opportunities, picking up their lives and just going and adapting as needed.  Rose would have never thought of traveling so extensively had she not been an AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland.  She recognizes that she wouldn’t have had these opportunities or made so many meaningful connections in so many unexpected places without her experience as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator.

“My study abroad experience opened opportunities for me to meet people and to understand myself and what I want for my future. “

(Thanks to VM23 Regional Coordinator Corrine Handy for interviewing Rose and writing this story!)

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