One week ago tomorrow we celebrated the end of another term of AmeriCorps service. Volunteer Maryland’s 24th class completed their time with us and went out with a bang. There are the statistics: 3,432 volunteers engaged in service; 31,764 community members served; 22 volunteer programs created or improved.
But this class represents so much more than numbers. As I said to them in my final remarks, they did something all year long that is remarkable; they collaborated. That’s right! They shared ideas and resources, asked questions, networked, and volunteered at each other’s sites. I watched this collaboration from the middle of September through the end of July and wondered if they knew how unusual it was. Collaboration is a word often thrown around, but not seen nearly enough.
Class 24 collaborated and, through their collaboration, everyone benefited. I’m confident that they learned more than they could have done by going alone. I think their Service Sites benefited by learning from others’ trials, errors, and successes. I’m sure the volunteers benefited from the recognition ideas that were swapped. And, ideally, all of these benefits have enabled community members to be better served.
I know I benefited from their collaboration. The energy when we all got together was incredible. The stories from the field were filled with passionate ideas and a great dose of humor. The sense of community that grew over this service year energized me to continue our work together.
And I know I wasn’t the only one who noticed how great they are. Nine Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are continuing with their Service Sites beyond their VMC terms. That’s 41 percent of the VMCs who completed the year successfully. That’s a large and impressive number – and I’m sure it would be larger if more Service Sites had the ability to hire additional staff.
So I’ll say it one more time before I finally and thoroughly shift gears into Class 25: Thank You. Thank you to the 22 Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, 2 Peer Leaders, and 21 Site Supervisors that helped make this year amazing. Thank you for your partnership, your dedication to strengthening our communities, and your collaboration. I’m honored to have worked alongside you this year and I look forward to learning of your continued work in the years to come.