Yesterday VM turned 20 years old. It was on September 9, 1992 that the Maryland Governor’s Office on Volunteerism was notified of its selection as a National and Community Service Model program by the Commission on National and Community Service. Just a few months later, in January 1993, the first Volunteer Maryland Coordinators began their service.
Since then, VM has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, schools, and government agencies; 612 AmeriCorps members (or pre-AmeriCorps members!) have successfully completed the program and created strong, engaging volunteer programs that serve our communities.
We’re so proud to have been a model of what was to become AmeriCorps – from our first members entering the field in 1993 to the launch of AmeriCorps at the White House in 1994 through the 2009 Service America Act, and today, as we get ready to start our 25th Class. Names, logos, and titles have changed (did you know our first name was not Volunteer Maryland but the Ten-Four Corps?), as have focus areas and priorities within AmeriCorps; but needs within our community remain.
Twenty years after a survey of Maryland nonprofits said that volunteer management was a need within our state, we continue to rely on volunteers to help serve our citizens and communities. Twenty years after the first 55 VM Coordinators and Associates began their service, we still hear from organizations about how much our service is needed, how important it is to develop and sustain quality volunteer programs, and how essential Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are to this work.
So, with as much energy as mustered by our first Executive Director, Ellie Falk Young, the VM staff, and those 55 Coordinators and Associates, we continue our work. With little fanfare, we’ll start our 25th class in just a few weeks. Across Maryland, they will enable their Service Sites to better serve their clients and communities – and our team of three staff and two Peer Leaders will continue to support them. Our multiplier model remains the same and continues to thrive – this year, a small support team and 30 Volunteer Maryland Coordinators Service Sites will engage 5,000 volunteers in service to up to 60,000 community members in need. Just as importantly, the service this year will continue to strengthen our communities, leaving programs in place that will engage volunteers and better serve communities for years to come.
With a wonderful mix of excitement and pride, we say Happy Birthday to Volunteer Maryland! Happy birthday to all of the VM Coordinators, Associates, Regional Coordinators, Peer Leaders, VISTA members, Service Sites, and Host Sites that have been part of the last 20 years! And, as long as we’re needed, here’s to another 20!