New Beginnings

The summer of 2010 was a time of new beginnings for me. After completing two years of service with Volunteer Maryland, I was full of excitement and curiosity as I started to prepare for my role as Program Manager. I could not have been happier to continue being part of the AmeriCorps community, an experience that connected so much to my passions and values.

Now, several years later, it’s a time for new beginnings once again, as my Program Manager journey has come to an end. My love and energy for AmeriCorps still remains fiercely strong and I am so thankful for this opportunity. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for being given the chance to be part of such an amazing program and work with such dedicated service leaders across Maryland.

Over the years, I worked with over 150 AmeriCorps members as they collaborated with nonprofit and government leaders to enhance volunteer programs. Through their service, I witnessed, time and time again, how powerful volunteerism is for the overall health of people and the environment.

I laughed (a lot), brainstormed, worked through challenges, celebrated, and volunteered with so many wonderful people in the program, and I could not be more proud of what they were able to accomplish in such a short year. It was a privilege to work so closely with each Site Supervisor and Volunteer Maryland Coordinator during this process, and I remain inspired by their service. Thank you, Volunteer Maryland alums and supervisors, for teaching me so much.

The chance to work with the extraordinary staff members at Volunteer Maryland impacted my life in such meaningful ways. Their strength, sincere dedication to volunteerism, and mentorship are just a few gifts I have had the honor of receiving. Thank you, Barbara, Maureen, Patrice, Kerry, and Lori for being such incredible leaders/guides/friends.

Volunteer Maryland will always have a special place in my life, and my support will continue for years to come. I’m excited to learn about the next class of AmeriCorps members, and even more thrilled to welcome Nicki Fiocco, VM Class 24 alumna, to the Volunteer Maryland staff as the next Program Manager! Congratulations, Nicki!

One Year in Three Minutes

At our Pre-Service Training in September, we asked each Volunteer Maryland Coordinator to deliver a three-minute speech. This was one of the first opportunities for each person to share what they hoped to accomplish as AmeriCorps members.  We were all very excited to hear these great ideas and anticipate how they would unfold over time.

After months of recruiting and supporting volunteers, it’s fascinating to look back at those original speeches, and reflect on how each Volunteer Maryland Coordinator tackled the ideas and themes of September.  Inspired by this curiosity and our love for reflection, we decided to revisit the three-minute speech at our last training day.  This time around, each AmeriCorps member shared a thoughtful synopsis of their accomplishments throughout various levels of service. From personal growth to seeing the impact of volunteerism in the local community, it was incredible to hear how a year of service could accomplish so much for so many involved.

To really understand what I’m talking about, take a look at Debbie’s speech. Debbie is the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at University of Maryland Extension Carroll County 4-H, where she brings her passion and dedication for 4-H to strengthen volunteer efforts that provide enriching experiences for countless students in the county.  Thank you, Debbie, for your commitment to service!

4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.  I embrace the mission of 4-H.   4-H is an important part of my family’s life and has been for many years. 

4-H’ers are taught from a young age to analyze their projects using the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  As the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator for the Carroll County 4-H Program, I thought I might try the same analysis.

A 4-H’er pledges their head to clearer thinking.  I used my head and learned that I enjoy creating surveys, marketing materials, collecting and analyzing data. I actually like collecting volunteer hours and seeing them add up.   I also enjoy doing background searches; although, I am happy to say that interesting findings are left for my boss to investigate further.

4-H’ers pledge their heart to greater loyalty. As a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, I used my heart to nurture and empathize with the volunteers.  Sometimes all they need is someone to offer a listening ear and give gentle encouragement.   

4-H’ers pledge their hands to larger service.  Giving and working are my favorite part of the Volunteer Maryland partnership.   Herding cats at robotics events (which is actually helping elementary and middle school students line up to take their turn on the VEX IQ robotics field), dressing up as a chicken for fourth graders, and holding a live chicken all day long to teach children the body parts of a chicken for 16 different groups all added to the Volunteer Maryland experience.  Even training new volunteers and knowing that when I go home, I have helped lighten the load that my boss once endured, makes my day.

Lastly, 4-H’ers pledge their health to better living.  Being a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator has broadened my horizons, forced me to drive to new places, and improved my self-esteem. I have enjoyed meeting a great group of people who I am sure will make a difference in our world.  Also, I improved the health of the Carroll County 4-H program by collecting $379 in-kind donations for a healthy topping ice cream social that was used for the Carroll County 4-H Achievement Program. I wrote news releases, gave library programs, and trained 41 new volunteers since January who will be helping Carroll County 4-H in all different clubs.  I collected volunteer hours from 162 volunteers who contributed 6,428 hours to the 4-H program in six months.  

The 4-H motto is “To Make the Best Better.”  Being the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator for the Carroll County 4-H program has helped me make my best better.  I look forward to another year where I will find the right person to start a new 4-H Club in Southern Carroll County.

Thank You, Site Supervisors!

A couple of weeks ago, we reunited with our group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and Site Supervisors for one of our monthly training days.  It was a great opportunity to share resources and learn from many leaders across the State of Maryland.

We meet as a large group only a few times a year, which makes these particular trainings very special.  Being with this group reminded me of how lucky we are to have such incredible leaders to serve as our Site Supervisors. For today’s blog post, let’s celebrate the great people who mentor and support our AmeriCorps members!

Our Site Supervisors represent a wide range of professionals in the non-profit and government sector.  From Executive Directors to Watershed Foresters, their roles go beyond volunteer management. Through their work, they are a constant voice for their community, advocates for the environment, and change makers.  They are involved in everything from strategic planning to staff leadership, grant management to communications. The diversity and depth of their experience and knowledge are an invaluable asset to our partnership.

The Site Supervisors are fantastic mentors to our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.  They spend time each week providing guidance, feedback, and resources for both the volunteer program and the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator.  We cannot thank them enough for the guidance they offer to our members, as the Site Supervisors play a big role in developing service leaders who will continue to lead beyond their AmeriCorps service year.

Speaking of continued service, it’s exciting to know that nine of our Site Supervisors are AmeriCorps alums!  These alums represent VISTA, NCCC, Public Allies, and other great AmeriCorps programs across the country.  Out of this group, three of our supervisors served with Volunteer Maryland!  It is wonderful to see former members support current members in this unique relationship.  Coleen Reyes, Site Supervisor at the Baltimore Urban Debate League and Volunteer Maryland alumna of Classes 19 and 20, shared that her experience as an AmeriCorps alumna “gave me the perspective to always look for new opportunities to learn and grow for myself and therefore any AmeriCorps member that I now support.  Furthermore, it has made me much more attentive to ensuring their experience is really connected to making change and developing themselves professionally and personally.”

Thank you to all of our Site Supervisors- past and present!

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!

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!

Tales from the Road

As the Program Manager of Volunteer Maryland, I feel so lucky to get to work with an incredible group of individuals.  Our AmeriCorps members, better known as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs), work tirelessly to support and refine volunteer programs at nonprofit organizations across Maryland.  With the amazing guidance from their designated supervisor (a.k.a. their Site Supervisor), wonderful things happen in less than a year of partnership.

I get to learn more about these efforts when I visit each of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and Site Supervisors each fall/winter.  For the past two and a half months, I have engaged in what we like to call our “site visit season.”  This is a very educational experience in which I travel with a member of our Support Team to meet with each of our 30 partnership sites.  This is one of my favorite parts of my role, as I get a first-hand glimpse of where our AmeriCorps members are serving, as well as gain the opportunity to reflect and learn more about their service.

The knowledge and stories from the site visits have been so insightful and inspiring. Listening to such positive progress is an important reminder of the great things Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I’d like to share with you a few reflections from the site visits that exhibit the impact of our AmeriCorps members.

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators research and implement smart tools that refine the process of volunteer management.

For example, Brinley, VMC at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Washington County, recently instituted a new tracking tool called OurVolts.  OurVolts can be used as an app on a mobile phone, making the process of reporting hours convenient and accessible for volunteers. This process will not only be easy for the volunteers, but help the organization gain an accurate understanding of how many hours their volunteers will serve.  As a result, this data will also be useful for reporting and recognition purposes.

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators understand the importance of recognizing volunteers.

The effort to celebrate the hard work of volunteers has a lasting impact on the quality of the volunteer experience.  An example of such recognition occurs in Baltimore where Montressa develops a regular “Volunteer of the Month” spotlight to recognize outstanding volunteers who serve at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center.  Also, Jessica, the VMC for the Frederick County Department of Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, is developing ongoing recognition events, and will soon be hosting a celebration titled “We Love Our Volunteers” (cleverly tying into Valentine’s Day!).

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators build meaningful connections.

This occurs on a such a significant and multi-faceted level.  Bintou, who serves at Moveable Feast, facilitates orientations for volunteers before they assist with preparation and packaging of nutritious food that will go to individuals who are fighting severe illnesses.  Through her orientation, Bintou connects volunteers with the mission and history of the volunteer program, making the experience so much more effective and rich for all involved.  Over at Education Based Latino Outreach, Johana builds connections with staff through weekly meetings, during which they discuss the progress of volunteers and additional resources to support volunteers.  Through relationship building, the staff can work together more cohesively to best support and supervise volunteers.

While the next piece of information did not necessarily derive from the site visits, it would be a shame to not include it!

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators recruit and manage qualified volunteers as a result of their strategic outreach methods.  I’m proud to share that since October 2014, this group has recruited nearly 900 volunteers and helped manage over 4000 volunteers.  Collectively these 4000+ volunteers have served over 9,000 Marylanders.  Wow!

This is just a snapshot of some of the great work that’s being done by the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators in Class 27, and so much more is yet to come this year!

Reyna and Johana (EBLO)
Reyna (Site Supervisor) and Johana (Volunteer Maryland Coordinator) are a great team at Education Based Latino Outreach.
A group pose during a site visit with Partners In Care. Each person in the photo is or has been an AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland!

Transformation and Relationships: How AmeriCorps Has Inspired Me

A couple of weeks ago, I received a special note in the mail.  It was small and written in pencil on a scrap piece of notebook paper.  The message was brief and simple; it read, “When are you coming back. I miss you.”  The author of this letter was a nine year old boy who attends an after-school program, the Power Project, at a non-profit in Baltimore City, the St. Francis Neighborhood Center.  He is part of a group of young students I met as a volunteer during my second AmeriCorps term of service.  During this time, I served as a Regional Coordinator (a position now called Peer Leader) with Volunteer Maryland.  In this position, my main role was to mentor nine Volunteer Maryland Coordinators as they worked for organizations throughout Maryland.  I had just served as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator the year before and this was the perfect next step for me.  While I served my duties as an AmeriCorps member, I also had the privilege of spending 10 percent of my time volunteering at another organization, and that is how I was connected with the great work that’s being done at the Power Project.

Receiving that note meant so much to me on many levels.  It reminded me of how long-lasting and meaningful a relationship can be between a volunteer and a community member, and these kinds of the relationships are constantly being developed through the work of AmeriCorps members.  This relationship reflects how AmeriCorps works well; it helps to inspire and foster real relationships that are necessary for growth, both individually and on a wide scale. This reminder immediately transported me back to many memories of not only my time getting to know this child but of the powerful moments I’ve had throughout my time with Volunteer Maryland.  It’s because of these meaningful experiences that I jumped at the chance to take on the role of Program Manager at Volunteer Maryland after my years of service.  

My passion for empowering others through service is one of the big reasons I love my job.  While I am very committed to working directly with communities, I also wanted the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps members.  The core of my role as Program Manager is to support AmeriCorps members and the organizations they work with.  A lot of this has to do with building strong relationships with these individuals (just like the ones between volunteers and clients) through active listening, learning and guiding. We work hard as a team to try to use the skills of AmeriCorps members to create and enhance the way volunteers are incorporated in the mission of an organization.  The beauty of this system is that AmeriCorps members and the non-profit staff who support them put in an incredible amount of creativity, passion, and energy into achieving these goals that ultimately create change.  Throughout this process, AmeriCorps members gain real work experience, learn new perspectives about themselves, have their views challenged from time to time in healthy ways, and become stronger leaders.

Over the course of a little over three years and three different experiences, AmeriCorps has given me the chance to be positively transformed by the work of volunteers, AmeriCorps members and alums, community residents, and incredible non-profit leaders. From Darnell to the 24 AmeriCorps members in Volunteer Maryland Class 24, I will always remain grateful for the power of those relationships and the invaluable experiences AmeriCorps has given me.

Legacy of Change

Growing up I was always energized by volunteerism and service (and still am!).  As Katelyn described in her recent entry, I also was motivated to join AmeriCorps by a deep desire to help others.  AmeriCorps gave me the perfect opportunity to use that drive and give back to my local community.

My experiences through AmeriCorps have been, to say the least, invaluable. I cannot imagine any other way that I would have wanted to spend my post-college years.  As an AmeriCorps alum, I love looking back at the memories of my years working with community volunteers, mentoring fellow AmeriCorps members, and learning how to challenge myself in the process.  Another awesome part of the alum experience is that I LOVE hearing stories from other alums.

Let me take you back to fall 2009 when I was in New York City trying to find my bus back home to Baltimore after a short vacation.  At the time I was in my second year of service, during which I was a Regional Coordinator for Volunteer Maryland, mentoring a small group of Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.  In my search for my way home I asked a young man for help who looked like he was looking for the same bus.  It ended up that we were riding the same bus, and, through small talk, I found out that he was an AmeriCorps alum of an NCCC program.  We sat next to each other on the bus and talked for at least an hour about our experiences.  I have taken this same bus countless times and this chance encounter, by far, involved one of the best conversations I’ve ever had.  This individual, who is now in his mid-20s, joined NCCC right after high school and was incredibly impacted by the people he worked with.  He is currently a medical student and told me that his AmeriCorps experience had a huge impact on his decision to pursue his career choice.  AmeriCorps gave him the unique opportunity to see many people in need and empowered him to make a change.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago.  I recently met up with a friend of mine who was a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator last year at The GUIDE Program, a non-profit that provides services for individuals who have psychiatric challenges and disabilities.  As an AmeriCorps member she was able to build a foundation for their volunteer program, which included a plethora of materials (policies and procedures, position descriptions, applications, evaluation materials, and an overall guide to volunteer management) and engaged new volunteers in meaningful volunteer roles such as tutors and recreational aides.  During her service year she was accepted into a Master’s program in education and is currently pursuing her degree.  In addition to being very excited about getting into the classroom after her schooling is complete, she can’t wait to implement volunteerism at the school she works at.  Whether it be through parent volunteerism or a student garden, she wants to use the skills and knowledge she loved and gained from her AmeriCorps year to impact her community.

These are just two of an incredible list of stories of how AmeriCorps alums are continuing to serve as leaders in their communities because of the genuine impact of their service year.  Both of these stories epitomize a small part of why I am so incredibly proud to be a part of national service.

How did your service year impact your life after AmeriCorps?  Please share your stories here!

Time Flies

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Time flies,” about a billion times throughout your life. That adage epitomizes exactly how I feel right now. Where did the last two years go, and how did they fly by so quickly?

Since the end of my college days I have been involved with Volunteer Maryland, and I can’t imagine spending my time in any other way. As I write this, I am still soaking in the fact that I am officially an alum of AmeriCorps.

VM 21 Finale: The end of my first AmeriCorps year!

As Michael mentioned, the last day of the service year was on Tuesday, and we spent it celebrating at an amazingly lovely marina on Kent Island. The day was full of congratulations, reflections, and goodbyes. Throughout the ceremony of congratulations, we had the pleasure of receiving advice and reflections from our keynote speaker, Darryl Jones, CEO of Maryland Nonprofits. I enjoyed his wisdom that he passed along to our class, and felt he particularly made a good point in stating that this is not the end, but only the beginning of a lifetime of serving others. I think that as an AmeriCorps member it’s important to remember that. The year goes by fast, and while our jobs are intended to accomplish much with a short time frame, we should remember that our work can be continued and sustained for years to come. Not only that, the AmeriCorps experience should serve as a reminder that we all have the capability to not only shape the lives of others, and be aware of the needs of our community, but strive to grow as leaders no matter where we are in life.

Volunteer Maryland more than emphasized that special kind of personal power for me. Through encouragement and coaching from the VM staff and facing the task of handling real challenges in the community, I developed a sense of self-confidence and strength that I feel I will carry for my lifetime. The friendships I gained and the lessons I learned from others gave me a clear perspective on life that I don’t think I could have received elsewhere.

Although I am now an alum, I am not quite done with Volunteer Maryland! At the end of August I will be starting a new adventure as Program Manager for the VMC program. I am incredibly excited to work with a whole new group of dedicated individuals, learn more from the awesome VM staff, and continue to grow professionally.

VM 22 Finale: End of my second AmeriCorps year!

Thank you to all I have met and been inspired by. Congratulations to VM Class 22, and I look forward to meeting Class 23! 😀

Congrats!

Last week I provided a small description of my region, the G-Team, but didn’t really go in to detail about their years.  Just as Kimberly did in her last post, I’d like to highlight some of the specific accomplishments of each of the members of my region. Enjoy, and congratulations to these awesome members!

Banneker-Douglass Museum: Adrian developed a new volunteer program for the museum; these volunteers served as docents and assistants to educational programs. Along with recruitment and training of individual and group volunteers, Adrian created policies and procedures, a volunteer handbook, and other program materials from scratch.

Dundalk Renaissance Corporation: Marisa finished a second year working with the Greening of Dundalk Program. Through this program she provided residents with many outlets to understand and better their environment, including tree plantings, community clean-ups, classes and seminars on greening topics (recycling, rain barrel construction) and activities that actively and appropriately engaged the community.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy: Joanna dedicated her energy towards building a stronger foundation for the growing Land Steward Program, a group of volunteers who monitor land properties that must abide by certain regulations of an easement. A more organized structure was implemented through the creation of a new, more formal training, position descriptions, and improved publicity. She also organized efforts to involve volunteers on other levels of the organization’s needs, including creative ways to become involved in publicity at local festivals and events.

Maryland Department of the Environment: Dan revised and added to the previous VMC’s work with the Volunteer Enforcement Corps, a group of volunteers who review documents that are required to be submitted in accordance with environmental permits/regulations by select permittees. Through new recruitment strategies, he was able to increase his volunteer base from 2 to 10, which allowed for more auditing to be completed. He tirelessly advocated for the presence of volunteers within this department, and, in doing so, more projects were completed and the value of volunteers was increased.

St. Francis Neighborhood Center: Corrine recruited and supported a large group of volunteers who served as tutors and mentors for the Power Project, an after-school youth development program. She also established valuable partnerships with local schools and organizations (Loyola College, UMBC) to provide workshops and additional activities for youth and volunteers (i.e. photography classes). She was also creative with volunteer recognition as she created a publicized “Volunteer of the Month” blurb, received in-kind donations for recognition gifts, and established a strong team environment, where many volunteers expressed feeling part of a “family.”

Phillips Wharf Environmental Center: Michel strengthened the relatively nonexistent volunteer program at her site, recruiting volunteers to help with educational tours at the site and with the Fishmobile, a traveling museum of animal displays, aquariums, and touch tanks. Michel provided her site with the momentum and spirit to update the program with new training, an updated volunteer website, more of an online presence, and creative volunteer recognition.

Paul’s Place: Tamara played an important role in bringing organization and additional volunteers to long lasting services, including the hot lunch, market place, computer lab, holiday programs, and children’s programs. She implemented technology (Google Calendars and Raiser’s Edge) to better organize volunteer schedules and hours. Those additions positively influenced the flow of each of the volunteer programs, especially between staff members.

Nanticoke Watershed Alliance: Matt carried on the work of the previous VMC as he focused on improving and sustaining the Creekwatchers, a water monitoring program. He updated their recording system (which increased productivity and eased the process), consistently recruited for volunteers, and helped provide momentum through constant communication and volunteer recognition events. He also took part in other projects, including a rain garden build with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lower Shore, assistance with a Green Infrastructure initiative, and outreach events and talks about the history of the Nanticoke River.

Southeast Community Development Corporation: Jenny developed an extensive greening program for Southeast neighborhoods in Baltimore city (Canton, Bayview, Highlandtown) that supported the community planning services of SECDC. In addition to creating documents (position descriptions, volunteer handbooks, liability forms, and more) she organized regular tree plantings, clean-ups, garden constructions, pavement pathway construction, and other greening initiatives. She also partnered with Marisa, from the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, in creating and hosting a series of educational seminars on environmental topics, called “Think Green, Go Green.”