Melissa Michaels is serving her first year with Volunteer Maryland as Volunteer Coordinator with SEEC, which provides community supports to assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live lives of their choosing.
Why did you apply to Volunteer Maryland?
I graduated in 2019 from George Mason University with a degree in English and a concentration in Linguistics. After graduation, I was unsure what type of career I wanted to pursue. Seeking to gain exposure in a field very different from my educational background, I applied for a term of service with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps.
What are you hoping to get out of your service year?
I’m hoping to gain an experience that will stick with me in any future workplace and maybe even open new doors and generate new long-term goals for myself. It is my hope I will gain a sense of accomplishment by making a lasting impact at my site, SEEC, by developing a sustainable volunteer program that will directly serve Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I also wish to gain invaluable skills in program development and volunteer management through training and hands on experience.
Why do you believe service is important?
Service is often seen as a selfless act, but service is mutually beneficial to both the volunteer and the population being supported.Service utilizes the collaborative efforts of people from vastly different backgrounds to meet particular community needs that would go unmet without the support of volunteers. In the process, volunteers get the chance to practice compassion and empathy while gaining a unique perspective about the world they live in. When serving, we learn that the problems faced by others are also our problems and may feel a sense of accomplishment when visualizing our impact whether it be large, small, direct, or indirect. Volunteers who have positive experiences serving will likely share their stories even long after their term of service ends—spreading awareness and continuously serving the community whether they realize it or not.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to this service year?
This year I am really looking forward to doing more service projects! As a kid, I was heavily involved in clubs and organizations that regularly organized service projects. I always looked forward to serving with my friends and family while helping my community. After high school, I continued to be involved in clubs and organizations at University, but did not volunteer as much as I would have liked. I am excited to get back into serving my community and am lucky to work so closely with some great organizations in Maryland with so many opportunities to get involved! I am also looking forward to using this time to bond with other members of the Volunteer Maryland cohort while exploring Maryland and learning new things.