What’s Good with Yinka?

Yinka is a VM Alum who most recently served in Volunteer Maryland’s Class of VM 30 as a Peer Leader who helped the support team and cohort of AmeriCorps Members. She supported them in their role on the field, designed a multitude of digital/print materials with her graphic design experience, and has now moved on!

On the day of VM’s Class Finale, Yinka received the news that she would be working as the Outreach Specialist for Catholic Charities’ Share Food Network (for their Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery branch) a sustainable, social enterprise of Catholic Charities that helps anyone save money on nutritious, healthy food.  They are committed to supporting local community groups where all may participate, serve, and lead with dignity.  How’s that for timing?

We’re so excited to have seen Yinka grow through her two years of service to AmeriCorps with Volunteer Maryland. Not only did she serve as Peer Leader in the 2017-18 Service Year, she had also been the Volunteer Coordinator in 2016-17 at Montgomery County Community Action Agency. We are so proud and look forward to see Yinka achieve great things during her new journey.

Stay tuned to our blog for more What’s Good Wednesday news and other hot VM topics! If you’re interested in learning more about our AmeriCorps program and available positions please visit us at volunteer.maryland.gov



Pam and Community Needs are not Retired!

General Feel Good Quotes about their Service Experience:
“I thought I was retired, but during this placement I found out my spirit, passion, and desire to make a difference and to work with communities struggling with urban plight, political indifference and exclusive gentrification has not retired–it was just resting. Yes, I am a retired social worker and therapist but I am still a project manager, community activist, event planner, public speaker, and an AmeriCorps Member and I will continue to get things done in VM 31 at Pigtown Main Street” – Pamela Evans, Pigtown Main Street, VM 30

On the Role of Volunteers in Organizations:
“I also consistently address and clarify that staff are the process owners not volunteers. As such, the direction and vision for project comes from us, volunteers assist and should not be fully responsible for carrying out a function that a staff”

We are so excited that Pamela has decided to continue her great work at Pigtown Main Street and will be serving in the upcoming VM31 2018-2019 Service Year! If you too would like to be a part of service minded and mission driven individuals serving as Volunteer Coordinators apply for our AmeriCorps program at www.volunteer.maryland.gov/ACM  

Members in Action! – Kelsey

Kelsey Eastman is an AmeriCorps Member serving at Deep Roots in Earleville. Deep Roots is a homeless shelter for children and families in the community that strives to break the generational cycle of homelessness. In her time there, her recruiting efforts have focused mainly on volunteers to serve as tutors for the children at Deep Roots.

As Kelsey has worked to get this program off the ground, she recently interviewed the first volunteer she recruited as a tutor about her experience so far. The volunteer said, “It was not long before Christmas so all the kids were excited. I held the tutoring session inside the dining hall so all of the kids were curious and running around us while we worked, wanting to get involved and participate in the session. I felt a bit overwhelmed and nervous because I wasn’t the most confident in being a tutor. One boy came up to me and asked me if I would like a cup of tea. So he came back with a cup of tea, sat down with me, and just started a conversation with me. I received such a warm welcome and sense of hospitality from this boy and it reminded me that while you come here to give back to your community, you end up receiving so much more.”


It’s not only tutors that make a difference at Deep Roots though. Kelsey met with a pastor of a local church to discuss outreach among his congregation. She was delighted to find out that he not only wanted to help her with her recruiting, but he also wanted to volunteer himself! He has offered to help them design and print promotional materials as well as bring a “Carnival in a Box” (think moon bounce, cotton candy, popcorn, and other games!) to the residents of Deep Roots.

Another volunteer who helps with tech support stepped out from his normal volunteer routine to bring over $250 worth of donations of food and supplies. In response to this, Kelsey said, “It is amazing to see volunteers branch out and help the other areas of Deep Roots that they don’t usually volunteer with!”

Beyond recruiting for tutoring volunteers, Kelsey has established a partnership with a group at the University of Delaware known as Lazarus Rising. She says, “They will send out volunteers from the University of Delaware that will have weekly and monthly sessions with our residents that will include resume building, basic computer training, mock interviews, job searching, job applications, as well as follow up sessions.”

Kelsey is crushing it at Deep Roots! Her service as an AmeriCorps Member and the service of the volunteers of Deep Roots remind us that every little bit helps and one small act of kindness can make a difference!


Members in Action! – Nora

“Am I too old for this?”  A question Nora Skiver, an AmeriCorps member at Habitat for Humanity Choptank, asked herself. Nora shares her wins and efforts at her organization.

“At the beginning of this journey with Volunteer Maryland, I admit my thoughts were: “What am I getting myself into, Am I too old for this?” Guess what? I have since changed that perspective. When I make a presentation to recruit volunteers I am enthusiastic and excited. I am encouraged by the response of my volunteers and how much they are enjoying their experiences. I have increased the group presentations and am learning to network with local organizations to share volunteers when they request other volunteer experience”.

She ends with this thought, “ …life presents us the opportunity for us to give in order to get”.

Nora has also met other clients and volunteers like herself, who continuously prove her change in perspective.

According to her, Loretta Smith, a 71 years old had applied with Habitat Choptank’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program to assist with replacing a rotted porch floor. With the support of the organization she replaced all of her own door locks and did some of the painting. Nora learnt that every year Loretta, makes Christmas breakfast for Clients at a nursing home for low income clients, and is a volunteer at a Public Library. She does not want to be called a “senior”

 Nora is known to encourage and engage her volunteers such as recruiting active volunteers to bake cookies for 60 construction volunteers. And with the help of a board member had the cookies delivered. She continues to challenge herself to find innovative ways to inspire her volunteers. Some ways of achieving this are, viewing webinars such as “Engaging Volunteers of the future” and reading books like “The New Breed: Second Edition: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteers.”

 20170920_122940There really is no excuse for not serving your community. We all have skills that can be of service to the community. All we need is the heart. We have many AmeriCorps members from different age brackets, background, race and creed with heart currently serving.


Members in Action! – Sophia

Sophia an AmeriCorps Member at Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF) whose passion for raising awareness for UCF has helped her developed skills that many seek. Being a volunteer coordinator requires various skills, public speaking is one of them. Sophia shares how her experience so far helped her to hone this skill.

She says, “In the month of December, I was able to travel back to my Alma mater, Geneseo and speak about 4K for Cancer and my involvement with UCF. I have been working on my goal of improving my public speaking quite a bit this month through presentations to the UCF staff and also through outreach opportunities that I have helped out with. Speaking for an hour as a part of the All-College-Hour Speaker Series at Geneseo was a huge test to the work that I had put into my public speaking and it was a really exciting and challenging experience for me. I was able to share my personal story as well as the stories that I have heard throughout my involvement with Ulman that inspire me to keep working with UCF. My goal of the speech was to inspire others in this community to get involved with UCF and hopefully other types of service in and outside of their community. I was really happy with how the speech went and I spoke to a few people afterwards who really wanted to get involved with UCF. It felt great to be able to see the improvement in my public speaking since the start of the service year and someone who attended the speech reached out to inquire about having me come and present at their university.

Another skill necessary to be a volunteer coordinator is being able to inspire volunteers to commit their time and effort, the challenging part being recruiting and retaining this volunteers.

For Martin Luther King day, UCF hosted a day of service well attended by 56 people of all ages. According to her,the UCF tradition of the Dedication Circle was an opportunity to hear the people that inspired the volunteers to give up their day off to serve with us. Some of the names said were familiar ones and some were names I had never heard before, but it was so inspiring to take a moment like that in which we were reminded the importance of what we were doing.”

Sophia goes further to share about one of the volunteers that served on MLK Day.

“A woman came to the MLK day of service after hearing about it through her company. She showed up with her kids and not knowing much about UCF, still took time out of her life to attend. I spoke with her about the UCF mission and my involvement and she told me about her life and where she had come from. Like me, she was new to Baltimore and looking for a community. She not only stayed the entire day, but was one of the most dedicated volunteers as her and her kids were knee deep in garbage cleaning out an area near the UCF House. She hopes to get more involved and told me how inspired she was by the UCF mission.”

However recruiting and learning what inspires volunteers is only a part of the job. Sophia faces the challenge of engaging volunteers, as volunteer opportunities are inconsistent.

She explains how they focused on creating an impactful opportunity.

“The greatest challenge this month was trying to figure out how to continue to engage volunteers after the initial interaction. I noticed that a lot of volunteer lose interest after the first event because our volunteer opportunities are less consistent. I don’t want to lose the interest of the volunteers, but still want to make sure that the work the volunteers are doing is meaningful and is making an impact. Lauriann and I have started doing Chemo Care Bag Builds every other week so that we will always have the bags ready to give to the Patient Navigators and also there will always be a volunteer opportunity for volunteers to get involved in.”

Volunteer Management is a cycle, the process is not stagnant and needs to be readdressed on all levels.  From the Big Picture to the Implementation of volunteer engagement, a Volunteer Coordinator or Manager is ultimatum responsible for relationship building and without constant care and attention eventually the relationships can end.  Sophia understands the importance of this constant need to nurture the relationship with new and excited volunteers and she’s up to the challenge to inspire them to stay engaged with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. #PickmeupWednesday


Nora – My VM Story – Habitat for Humanity Choptank

And last, but certainly not least we have our wisest VM30 AmeriCorps Member in Nora! Nora quit school in the 10th grade and worked as a waitress making just $0.50 an hour. Fast forward 20 years later and she was offered an opportunity by the State to pay for vocational training to become a nurse. “First I  had to obtain my GED and after 6 months of tutoring I received my diploma. I then took an accelerated 2 year course in 1 year, graduated, and took my State Board exams, thus beginning my 41 year career as an LPN (licensed practitioner nurse. I recently retired on August 31st 2017.”

“My family is of course my greatest source of pride.” She’s a mother of three grown children ( 2 daughters, 1 son); 4  grandchildren (3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter) who refer to her as “Gagy.”

“Nine years ago, due to an unexpected life change I moved to the Eastern Shore, Maryland. During the first 5 years I moved a total of 6 times due to the cost of  housing. Out of 3 of those places, I rented houses that were sitting empty and for sale. I was able to convince the homeowners to let me rent for a decreased amount. During that time I began to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The first time was for Women Build Week. After that, I was hooked on volunteering with them.”

In 2012, Nora found out that she met the parameters of homeownership with Habitat for Humanity Choptank and was able to assist in the building of her own home! “I have been living there for 3 years.

Now, Nora is a full time AmeriCorps Member serving at the same Habitat for Humanity Choptank managing their volunteer program! When she’s not out and about recruiting or recognizing volunteer achievements you may find Nora in the kitchen whipping up some delectable treats! “I love to cook and even more so, love to feed people. I am no stranger to struggles in life, but always refuse to accept defeat!”

“I was approached by the Executive Director, Nancy Andrews and Program Manager, Pat Ingram at Habitat for Humanity Choptank with the idea of serving. I  did some  online  research and  decided to go  forward with my retirement and pursue this  opportunity  to  serve with an organization I  believe very  strongly  about.

I  knew I wanted to retire, but was hesitant for a couple of reasons, one being  that I am  not a  sit around-do nothing  person and the  second  was  transitioning into a different  financial category. I strongly  believe  that nothing  happens  by  chance and  the fact  that  Nancy  and  Pat  had  confidence  in  me  was all  the “push” I  needed. At 66 years  of  age I desire to give back to my community and an organization that has given so much to me.”

During her service year Nora believes that she will develop new relationships and strengthen current friendships. “I hope to  not  only  share  some of  my professional skills and knowledge, but also glean the same  from  those I come in contact with over the  next 11 months. I look forward to developing more interpersonal skills and increasing my skills in the area of  the “electronic world” as well as in public speaking.”

Nora wants folks to know that there are health benefits to giving back. “I hope to keep my mind active and positive, thereby making the impact I have in my community a positive one. With this idea  in  mind , I am  certain that my positive attitude will generate confidence in my current  and  soon to  be  learned skills making me a more capable and  useful  person  for  those  around me.”

“At this point in my life-my long term goal is to maintain a  productive and healthy lifestyle, enjoy my  family and friends and hopefully leave “my world” a little better than I found it.”

You can learn more about volunteer opportunities at Habitat for Humanity Choptank by visiting www.Habitat choptank.org

Members in Action! – Mallory

“In the face of critical need in our communities, many of us feel concern: but when does that concern move us to act? At the story telling workshop hosted by Project Change and CASA, we tackled the challenge of telling our stories of service. Mallory’s story of service and engaging the community’s compassion compelled listeners.

Mallory Jones is the ​AmeriCorps member serving with Volunteer Maryland as a ​volunteer coordinator at The Samaritan Women, a shelter in Baltimore City for women rescued from domestic sex trafficking. She shared that when she gives presentations about human trafficking to the community, it sometimes elicits a response of sympathy or emotion. What resonated with participants at the storytelling workshop was Mallory’s goal to turn that sympathy into action. Mallory’s task at hand is channeling the community’s sympathetic feelings into actively serving the community.


According to Mallory, this is what true compassion looks like: Service and Action.
​In her role a​s​ a ​volunteer coordinator, she knows the impact one individual can make in the fight against human trafficking, and wants potential volunteers to know that if you act on your concerns, you truly can make a difference.
Mallory reminds us of how important it is to get our own story out there and inspire our community to act.”



Becky – My VM Story – Elms

She’s slow to anger, quick to laugh, and describes herself as a loyal friend. Becky joins our VM30 Class, serving at Elms Environmental Education Center in St. Mary’s. “I am proud of my decades of involvement with outdoor environmental work, whether building and maintaining the Appalachian trail and other trails in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, or in helping build trails centers and shelters and campgrounds so that others who share my love of the American outdoors can better enjoy the experience. One tidbit about me is that I hate to drive and I am especially fond of all animals, so when I do drive I will always brake my car for animals. Therefore, other drivers should not tailgate me.”

“I am doing this term because I could not believe a vacancy existed for such a noble and challenging opportunity.  When I learned during my Master Naturalist Certification Training that it was actually possible to spend time encouraging and helping my fellow Marylanders become involved as volunteers in and for their communities, I realized that a life-long dream of mine was on the cusp of fulfillment.  Doing something positive to help my world be a better place, and also helping my neighbors become more involved citizens allows me to “give back” to all those men and women who helped me in prior years to get to the place I enjoy in life and to become the person I am today.

As I progress through this program and become more and more acclimated in the role and responsibilities my position entails, I hope to gain an increased measure of self confidence in my ability to organize and inspire others to be more effective volunteers.

I believe serving in the capacity will help me become more organized in my own thoughts and actions, and help me help others gain that confidence and awareness that comes from the satisfaction of serving their towns and cities and state.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Elms please visit http://elms.smcps.org/

If you know an organization that would be interesting in having an AmeriCorps Member serve as a Volunteer Coordinator for the 2018-2019 service year please visit volunteer.maryland.gov

Jessica – My VM Story – Calvert Cash

Our first VM Story feature of 2018 brings us to Jessica who is serving in Calvert County!

“When the opportunity presented itself for me to become an Americorps Member with Volunteer Maryland serving at Calvert Cash, I was excited to find a good outlet for helping others in my hometown community.  I have seen many people in our community impacted by hunger for many reasons, and those folks need a hand and an opportunity to change their circumstances. The reasons don’t matter, the people do. This is also a great way for me to ease back into the work force after taking an extended maternity leave and relocating from my previous professional position.

Volunteerism and service are not new concepts for me.  My family has participated in service in large and small ways.  Whether as an Air Force Pilot, a Police Officer, Secretary/Treasurer for a church fundraiser, a Sunday School Teacher, Christmas in April Volunteer or Special Olympics supporter. My family has shown me a myriad of ways to be of service to individuals as well as whole communities. I enjoy working with people, especially those who also have a heart for service, many hands, one goal. Together with some newly recruited volunteers, we can make an even larger impact on Calvert County. For me personally as someone who had such a positive experience as a customer of Calvert cash I hope I can make an impact on someone and pay it forward.

I’m looking at this coming year as an opportunity to really grow in the area of leadership and training. Specifically, I am wanting to grow and learn how to better manage and network. I am hoping that by creating this new position at this site, it will encourage others to join in.  I would like to move up the Americorps ladder after my service year because Volunteer Maryland is the best organized and professional company since my career at LU online and I’d enjoy being a part of this for the rest of my working career. One of my personal goals since 2016 has been committed to  enjoying Maryland and since the Volunteer Maryland training, I have found nearly 30 new and wonderful reasons which have been reflected in my peers site programs!

When Jessica’s not serving with Volunteer Maryland this is what she had to say. “I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, walking, biking. I also enjoy exercising and hope to one day soon get a chance to try yoga.  I enjoy worshiping and the fellowship my church provides.

I am thrilled to get started as a Volunteer Coordinator for AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland at Calvert Ca$h and End Hunger Calvert.  Got some time you can spare? Come see me, we can always find a spot PERFECT for you and your talents and gifts!”

You can learn more about volunteer opportunities at Calvert Cash by visiting https://endhungercalvert.org/programs/calvert-cash/

If you know of an organization that needs to strengthen their volunteer program and it’s a goal of theirs’ to make an impact in 2018 and beyond, then they could get an AmeriCorps Member of their own! Visit Volunteer.Maryland.gov to get started!

Rachel – My VM Story – St. Franis Neighborhood Center

Today’s VM Story takes us to Rachel, who is serving at St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Baltimore!

“There are several reasons that I am doing this. For one, I think that this year of service will help me reach my professional goals. Specifically, the education award will allow me to pay off some of my loans from undergrad and someday attend graduate school. The Volunteer Maryland networking opportunities and professional development are also enticing.

I’m hoping that my time at St. Francis will give me a more concrete sense of the needs of the communities in Baltimore that are struggling with overcoming generational poverty and hunger. I will have situated myself in a community, lived experience, and perspective that is invaluable to my professional goals, and can ultimately create a model for my urban education program that I will be returning to school to pursue with the insights from the community. I would like to give the St. Francis community the tools to be self-sufficient and managing their resources responsibly and in a manner that minimizes waste. In the same vein, ideally the volunteer program would be more robust and consistent year to year. Finally, I’d like to learn what I need to work on in order to help other communities do so in the future.

My Puerto Rican heritage is very important to me. I do not have preferred gender pronouns and identify as queer and non-binary. I am a fiery Leo! I am an aunt to a beautiful toddler, and a new cat mom! I am originally from Baltimore County, but I attended undergrad in Ohio and lived in South Florida prior to returning to Baltimore earlier this year.

I like to sing, play with animals, garden (or be in nature in general). My love of nature led me to study Geology at Oberlin College, where I obtained a 3.6 GPA while also playing field hockey and acting as the treasurer of two campus organizations, La Alianza Latinx (our Latinx student union) and Oberlin Food Justice, and volunteering at the local George Jones Farm and tutoring at Eastwood Elementary School. I also had the privilege of studying away with my advisor and conduct research on a coral reef in Cane Bay, St. Croix. Ideally, I would return to St. Croix or any island or coastal region and assist in conceptualizing creative solutions to food scarcity and public health crises created by climate change, overfishing, and resource mismanagement.

That said, I am very passionate about resource management, outdoor education, and critical pedagogy as creative solutions to generational poverty, holes in our education system, and food scarcity. My grandmother was a Spanish teacher and channeled her energy into empowering the community; in a similar vein, I want to use my skillset and vast experience with plant life and gardening to empower communities to grow their own food and take their nutrition into their own hands. I also want to empower communities to manage their resources in a responsible fashion, such that food waste is eliminated and unnecessary hunger is a thing of the past. I have 10 years of progressively responsible experience working in garden centers, water gardens, and farms and ranches, and intend to instill and encourage the community of St. Francis to cultivate their green thumbs, too. My parents encouraged me to always be critical and learn as much as possible, and I am excited to do the same with volunteer coordination and in tutoring children at St. Francis.

The summer VISTA associate position at St. Francis that I originally took was for a STEM educator position, which was, more or less, exactly how I saw myself using my Geology degree after undergrad. Along with these responsibilities, my time was spent managing food distribution. My time as a member of Oberlin Food Justice organization motivated me to focus my energies on resource distribution and waste reduction. This translated into me developing close relationships with a bunch of the campers during meal and snack times, and ultimately led to me falling in love with the kids and community of St. Francis. Since I’ve gotten to know them and gotten a sense of their needs and how to mentor them, I felt that taking a position as their Volunteer Coordinator would allow me to further take care of these wonderful children that I care about deeply.”

You can learn more about the volunteer opportunities at St. Francis Neighborhood Center by visiting stfranciscenter.org

If you know an organization that would benefit from having an AmeriCorps Member serve as Volunteer Coordinator at their organization for the 2018-1019 service year please email volunteer.maryland@maryland.gov, call 410-697-9285 or visit volunteer.maryland.gov today!