April!

Around this time of year, I hear this phrase quite constantly: “I can’t believe it’s already April!!”  I always chuckle when I hear it from our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs).  This common exclamation a wonderful realization that we have officially arrived at the mid-point of our service year.

In April we are reminded of how incredibly fast time flies by, and at Volunteer Maryland we take time to reflect on what we have achieved and where we are going next.  As Patrice recently shared, the mid-point of our service year is a time for rest and reflection, but also reporting!  Reporting is a big part of my world right now.  Through reading the VMCs’ recently-submitted reports, I’ve enjoyed learning more about why they have felt like time has passed by in an instant.

Take a quick look at what our group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators have reported to be their major accomplishments related to volunteer program development:

  • Recruitment of volunteers (woohoo!)
  • Strengthening of community partnerships
  • Leading new volunteer training/orientations
  • Creating new tools, such as volunteer hours tracking databases
  • Relationship development with staff and volunteers
  • Recognizing/appreciating volunteers

Although this is a mere list, these accomplishments are mighty.  It doesn’t take one day to find prospective volunteers, build and research the content for a volunteer training, or build a genuine, kind relationship with a volunteer.  It takes time and planning to succeed, and these VMCs have been busy.

In addition to their accomplishments, the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators have learned more about themselves and their communities.  The chance to give back to others while gaining much in return is a dynamic experience.  I loved reading reflections shared through each “VMC Story,” a short tale of each person’s experience thus far.  Although there are so many stories to share, I’ll share just one this time.  Here’s a peek into Sam’s experience:

Being a VMC means enabling others to improve the lives of others by creating a positive and sustainable change within their community. Shepherd’s Clinic and Joy Wellness Center serves uninsured patients in one of the unhealthiest communities in Baltimore; my role as a VMC is to engage volunteers to get involved and make a difference with a population who has both life circumstances and negative stereotypes working against them.

A phrase I often hear is that by being an AmeriCorps member, I am “dedicating a year of service to others.” However, that is not how I view my service year. I consider this year a time where I have the invaluable opportunity to become immersed in a cause that is much bigger than me. I am dedicating a year to learning from those around me, to growing as a professional and – more importantly – an individual, to being involved with the amazing Shepherd’s Clinic and Joy Wellness Center and everything it stands for, and to build relationships with those who also believe in the work of Shepherd’s Clinic and Joy Wellness Center, Volunteer Maryland, and AmeriCorps.

At the mid-point, the VMCs are understanding more about how their dedication and hard work has helped them get their volunteer programs jump-started.  Although much has been accomplished so far, there’s much more good work to be done.  I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come!

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