The following is a guest post from VM’s Outreach Manager, Patrice Beverly.
Each fall, as the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators head to their Service Sites, I am filled with elation and dread. Elation that a new group of fresh faced, getting-things-done-peeps roll onto the streets of cities, towns, and burbs in our little State. It is an exciting time as Volunteer Maryland launches into our twentieth year and our twenty-fifth group of coordinators, but dread as it means I need to begin again. As soon as one group (or class, as we call them) launches, my task is to begin the process of finding the next group of both sites and Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. In a way it is so freeing. The idea that anything is possible, and being ready to go to something new, brings me back to that feeling you have at graduation. The celebration of a hard fought accomplishment, but knowing next day would bring a new, uncharted reality. I was in a post-graduation funk without the benefit of walking across a stage, carrying a diploma that certifies my accomplishment, or a party full of celebration for me. I am not looking for a party, and – let’s be honest – those robes are not flattering on anyone, but the launch that ceremony offers seemed to be lacking. Then I remembered the thing that most graduates forget: the commencement speech. The 25-minute or so impartment of wisdom given at a time when all you want to do is get going, and have a few more laughs with the people that helped shape this time. I needed that wisdom.
October is great for apple picking, Halloween, and all things pumpkin, but graduations are pretty rare, so I took to the Internet for wisdom. I watched about 20 different speeches over about seven days. There were the heartfelt ones filled with hope for the future. There were the lessons learned ones with an underlying message that failure is learning. There were ones with the message of you are the best and brightest and the world is waiting for you to shine. Some were filled with humor and a few were rather boring or awkward. (Those made me feel a tad antsy in my seat as if I felt I wanted to look into the bleachers to find my family.) But, within each, I found a nugget of wisdom or inspiration that began to move me from dread to “let’s go.” Good reminders in being present in moments, to not fear failure, and knowing that there are good people who stand with you and are ready to offer help. Believing in what you do in life. Never stop learning. Being generous with our time and giving back to our community. All needed at this time of starting over.
So I move my tassel and toss my cap for the past 12 months of seeking, negotiating, and launching Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, and take all of this wisdom with me as Volunteer Maryland heads into its twentieth year and I into my eleventh recruitment season. Congratulations class of 2012 outreach, and welcome class of 2013.