Getting the best out of the AmeriCorps experience

For many AmeriCorps programs July is a time of transition.  AmeriCorps members might be coming up on the end of their time of service, or they have already graduated and are moving into the next stage, whatever that may be for them.  Here at Volunteer Maryland, as Kerry said, we have just about five more weeks left in our service year.  Many of our class are on the job hunt, looking for the best place to use their skills.  Alumni of AmeriCorps bring special skills and experience with them, and Volunteer Maryland Coordinators especially.  If you happen to be hiring, here are some of the benefits of hiring a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, as originally printed by former VMer, Megan Stransky:

1)      Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are well trained!  Volunteer Maryland provides around 100 hours of training to our AmeriCorps members on topics ranging from the basics of volunteer management, to conflict resolution, to storytelling for nonprofits, to time management, and the list goes on.  Not only that, they also have a toolbook that contains all the secrets to volunteer management that they get to take with them after the service year ends.  That thing is a brick and contains a ton of information that they can share with you and your staff to help the whole organization better understand volunteer management.

2)      They are committed.  There is no better way to judge a person’s commitment than to offer them a difficult, full-time, 11 month job, for an AmeriCorps living stipend of $13,000 (after taxes, it’s more like $10,000).  When you work that down to the hourly rate, it’s really not much money and for the challenges some of our members face, it shows how dedicated to the cause they are that they are willing to do the work for so little (after all, the goal of AmeriCorps is not to get rich, but to serve others).

3)      They are creative problem solvers.  VMCs either work with existing volunteer programs to make them more successful or work on creating brand new volunteer programs for organizations that have never worked with volunteers before.  Either way, they generally face challenges in doing this and need to rely on their own creativity to solve the problem at hand.

4)      They are fun to work with.  When you work in a nonprofit, you deal with some pretty serious issues, but knowing how to have fun at work can make facing those issues a whole lot easier.  Well, VMCs are a fun group of people—they like karaoke, gardening, going to the beach, bowling, etc.—and they could definitely help lighten the atmosphere at your organization.

5)      They are part of a great network of AmeriCorps alumni that your organization can tap into.  Since 1992, Volunteer Maryland has had over 500 AmeriCorps members serve at nonprofits across the state.  Not only that, but thousands of people have served in AmeriCorps since its inception, every single one of them knows how much passion and determination it takes to serve in AmeriCorps, many still work in the nonprofit sector, and they are willing to help their fellow alumni succeed in life after AmeriCorps.  So, if you need some connections in the nonprofit world, hiring an AmeriCorps alumnus (specifically, a VM alumnus) can really help you tap into that network.

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