James Beacham, Shepherd’s Staff

James Beacham is a runner (“I am currently training for my first triathlon”), a musician (plays the guitar and ukelele), and a recent graduate of UMBC (he majored in political science). James was “on a track to become an employee of the defense/intelligence field,” but a semester spent in Spain his senior year changed everything. James tells us, “during that time, I met an illegal immigrant/refugee from Eritrea on the streets of Madrid and had the chance to talk to him and hear his life story which ultimately led him to flee from radical terrorism in Northern Africa. These things that happened to him and his family were incredibly moving, ranging from sneaking onto a commercial freighter to running from the border police. Hearing this story changed my perspective on life, as well as my idea of a desirable career. Instead of combating the cause of many international problems in a militaristic way, I decided to dedicate myself to helping those affected by the same issues through a humanitarian focus.”

James had found his place helping others as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at Shepherd’s Staff in Westminster, MD. This organization is focused on helping those in our community who have “fallen on hard times or fallen through the cracks of larger support systems.”

James hopes to use this year with Volunteer Maryland to learn the skills he needs to advance his professional career in the field of nonprofits. “I still have the same desire to help people as I had after talking to the refugee on the run in Madrid,” he adds, stating that eventually, he’d like to work in a nonprofit which is “focused on combating the refugee crises in Europe and Latin America.”

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