A Morning at the Maryland Food Bank

Our group at the Maryland Food Bank!

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are champions of service.  They not only lead community volunteers at their matched organizations, but participate in service themselves!

As a part of their service year, Volunteer Maryland Coordinators dedicate a portion of their time to participating in volunteer projects. This means that they temporarily step away from the coordination role and jump into a volunteer’s shoes for a few hours. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the nuances of a volunteer experience while giving back to communities across Maryland.

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining our Peer Leader, Elena, and a group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators to serve at the Maryland Food Bank, one of our partners this year.  Elena is a third-year AmeriCorps member who supports the work of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators through peer guidance and mentorship.  In addition, Elena plans monthly service projects for the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, including this particular day of service at the Food Bank.

The Maryland Food Bank was a great choice for our day of service for many reasons.  The mission of this organization is “to lead the movement and nurture the belief that together we can improve the lives of Marylanders by ending hunger.”  A great deal of this mission is accomplished by the service of volunteers.  This year, the Maryland Food Bank is hosting two of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.  At the Baltimore branch, Chloe is working hard to recruit volunteers and refine systems of the volunteer program.  In addition, she is helping to establish a new volunteer role called the Community Outreach Volunteer position, in which volunteers assist clients at the Pantry on the Go sites.  Our other Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, Rubab, is working with the Eastern Shore branch, specifically with the Farm to Food Bank program, helping to expand the volunteer pool and streamline volunteer processes.

Our day at the Food Bank’s Baltimore branch started off with an excellent orientation by Chloe. She helped us get acquainted with the history and impact of the volunteer program, as well as what to expect from our experience.  A solid volunteer orientation is an example of one of the meaningful contributions a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator can provide to their matched organization.

Following our excellent orientation, our group headed to the warehouse, where the Salvage Coordinator, Cassie, trained us on how to properly organize and sort donated food and goods.  Fun side note: Cassie is an alumna of the Volunteer Maryland program, and a great example of how engaged AmeriCorps alumni continue to serve in the nonprofit community.  Our group had a fun time sorting and assessing the quality of various food items and household products– items that will go to agencies that are serving thousands of children and families across Maryland.

The spirit of volunteerism is incredibly strong at the Maryland Food Bank, and that was apparent during our experience.  Last year, volunteers contributed more than 33,000 hours of service!  This generous donation of time and service is a testament to the great volunteer program at the Maryland Food Bank.  We look forward to volunteering again in the future and continuing our partnership!

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