It’s been so busy I haven’t even had a chance to mention one of our recent big events. That’s right, we just had our Class 24 Mid-Year Retreat – and what a retreat it was!
We had a few goals for our retreat: relaxation, reflection, learning, goal-setting, and fun. And, if I do say so myself, I believe these goals were met. We were in a beautiful setting with the sun shining and the temperature hitting nearly 80 degrees. We had a book exchange and bikes were donated for free time. We spent some time purposefully reflecting on the accomplishments from the last six months (and there are so many!). We had a variety of workshops, focusing on both volunteer management and skills for “Life After AmeriCorps.” We were also able to begin to shift gears a bit and recognize that we’re getting closer and closer to the end of the year, setting goals and priorities for the next four months. And, of course, we spent time reconnecting and having some fun.
All of that was part of our plan. But this class of AmeriCorps members brought so much more to our 24ish hours together. Our Peer Leaders, Barb and Joy, put together gift bags, door prizes, and a red carpet to recognize the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. And the VMCs brought so much personality that it’s a wonder we could all fit in one room!
They held their own jam session with instruments brought from home. One VMC started off the retreat by riding her bike from Baltimore to St. Michaels’ (a seven hour journey and she was the first one there!). Others brought books and magazines to exchange and discuss. And they all brought incredible humor. I nodded off to sleep Thursday evening with my cheeks aching from smiles and laughter.
They did all of this and stayed focused on continuing their service with enthusiasm and dedication. It’s no easy feat being a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator. Eleven months is a pretty short time to create a program, recruit volunteers, make it sustainable. In many jobs, a person gets several months or even a year to really learn the ropes before making any big changes. A VMC doesn’t get that opportunity; s/he just needs to dive on in and make the change.
My thanks go out to the VMCs for their dedication to service, for the perseverance they continue to show, and for re-inspiring me.