Kind readers of our blog, meet the Volunteer Maryland tree. I guess if I am being accurate, it is a plant. It came with some pretty simple instructions, and a vessel for providing water about once a week. Occasionally it likes to have its leaves spritzed a bit, and enjoys a sunny, but not too sunny window. It has been a part of the director’s office here at Volunteer Maryland for quite a while. It has lived through several caretakers and a move. It has been a part of countless meetings, celebrations and difficult discussions. All standing stoically as time rolls through class after class of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and Service Sites. It was there when we changed our logo from blue to one that reflected more of the colors of the Maryland flag. When Volunteer Maryland interviewed applicants for positions on the support team, it listened intently. When directors agonized over grants applications and budgets, it provided a calming presence to an otherwise dull office landscape. It laughed with us as we retold stories from our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. It huddled with us as the 15th floor chill descended in late fall, and reminded us of warmer times to come. It was there to help strategize new marketing techniques to help Volunteer Maryland stand out as an innovator among AmeriCorps programs. On late nights in the office working on deadlines, it never left early, and was there to greet us in the morning fresh, and ready to go. It was there when I entered the office to say I lost me sister in a freak complication from surgery. This tree has heard a lot.
I have talked a bit about the importance of preserving what is good with VM, and the tree is of course one of them. But what is next for VM as we look at the next 20 years of service? How will we continue to be a resource for nonprofits, government agencies and schools looking to build a volunteer program focused on results? What role will we play as National Service continues to evolve? This year, AmeriCorps enters the 20 year club. More than 80,000 people serve as AmeriCorps members each year, and this year, 26 of them are working in Maryland communities as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators. They will recruit tutors to help students with reading and math. They will recruit volunteers that will help students understand technology to better positions themselves for the ever growing need for positions in the STEM fields. They will recruit individuals to improve the health of Marylanders with more access to clinics and healthcare. The volunteers they recruit and manage will work to preserve and improve our natural world, ensuring a cleaner, healthier place to live. We are just getting started. Volunteer Maryland will continue to answer the call of communities all across Maryland with a proven resource of people, knowledge and results. We will continue to grow and learn as an AmeriCorps program, and continue to develop service leaders who will continue to serve in their communities long after their term of service ends. Most important, we will show the true value of a volunteer, not just in the hours committed to service, but in the impact that one volunteer can bring to individuals and communities. AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland are ready to provide even greater impact and growth, and are committed to providing solutions to our toughest problems. A tree does grow at Volunteer Maryland along with experience and resources on engaging volunteers in a more effective way. A tree does grow at Volunteer Maryland, and I plan on helping it grow even more. Thank you for connecting with Volunteer Maryland. Talk to you soon.