We can all become a bit cynical at times, and understandably so. Over the past month, however, I have received one object lesson after another in keeping cynicism at bay. During that time, I have had the privilege of visiting 11 different Maryland organizations to discuss the possibility of having a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator serve with them from September 2015 through August 2016. If you are feeling at all gloomy about life, humanity, etc., I heartily recommend spending time with people who have dedicated themselves to meeting critical community needs. It’s good for what ails you.
Among the more transcendent moments of my journeys were
- Meeting a Board Member from Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program in Cecil County, and then observing as volunteers supported her as she mounted and rode her horse. She was an accomplished rider before becoming disabled, and, thanks in large part to Freedom Hills, her current disability has not stopped her from pursuing this passion.
- Learning about how the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office Truancy Prevention Program successfully connects students and their families with the resources they need to achieve good school attendance and academic success.
- Witnessing the Howard County Conservancy in action! I drove in behind two school buses full of students ready to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the environment. While I met with staff, this large student group had a fantastic, well-organized environmental education experience.
- Talking with staff of Fox Haven Center and the Way Station about an innovative volunteer program that engages youth with disabilities in farming and other volunteer activities.
- Sitting on a porch at the beautiful Pearlstone Center, discussing their commitment to providing fresh produce to the Sarah’s Hope at Hannah More Shelter and the Ahavas Yisrael Food Pantry.
Volunteer Maryland’s past, current and future partners are remarkable environmental stewards, educators, and service providers. They embody AmeriCorps’ commitment to making people “safer, smarter and healthier.” The initiative each organization has taken to apply with Volunteer Maryland further demonstrates their commitment to engaging community volunteers in their missions. Watch this space for more examples of their awe-inspiring, cynicism-busting work.