Another spring site visit season has come and nearly gone at Volunteer Maryland. Each April, Program Manager Laura Aceituno and the Volunteer Maryland Peer Leaders begin traveling the state, visiting Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and their Site Supervisors.
These visits provide a wonderful opportunity for us to witness the fact that while they are all applying the same principles of volunteer management, each Volunteer Maryland Coordinator has, during the service year, become an expert on the specific needs of her service site’s volunteer program. And now more than ever, we see what a good fit VMCs can be for their service site.
Case in point: Laura and I had the pleasure of visiting Kaitlyn Fernald at the Greenwell Foundation in Southern Maryland, where we got to have our meeting outdoors, baby! (see also: Livin’ the Volunteer Maryland Dream). Among other great achievements, Kaitlyn has helped Greenwell streamline its online volunteer application and sign-up system. It is now easier than ever for people who want to volunteer at Greenwell to do so, whether they are teenagers who would like to volunteer at Greenwell’s summer camp, or horse lovers who would like to participate in the equestrian program.
Key to Kaitlyn’s success has been her willingness to put herself in the equestrian volunteers’ shoes (which, according to Kaitlyn, should be never be soft or flimsy). Kaitlyn had never been on a horse before her service year, but made a commitment to taking riding lessons and becoming an equestrian volunteer at Greenwell this year. These experiences gave her insight into what equestrian program volunteers at Greenwell need, and she used those insights to craft a volunteer program that is responsive to those needs, while also ensuring that they do excellent work to help Greenwell accomplish its mission.