Members in Action! – Alisha

Alisha Parzanese is determined to meet every problem with a solution. She says, “My greatest challenge this month was developing the material for the Weed Resistance Program. I decided that I had to take several steps to overcome this challenge. I began looking over material on Montgomery’s Weed Warrior program which was given to me by my Site Supervisor. I decided that we could borrow some of the material from Montgomery counties Weed Warrior program such as documents on volunteer hours, frequently asked questions, prevention of poison ivy and Lyme disease, native alternatives, and a list for targeted invasive plant species. However, I had to rewrite some of this material to incorporate it into our program and to avoid copyright. In addition to looking over other neighboring counties Weed Warrior programs, I had to develop documents for the program such as policy and procedures. To do this, I looked over how to develop policy and procedures in our Volunteer Maryland Training Tool Book. I decided that I had to include policy and procedures on confidentiality, volunteer-client relations, volunteer – staff relations, health and safety, legal liability, volunteer records, dress code, and speaking on behalf of the organization. Throughout the year, I will be updating and developing several other documents such as descriptions for Weed Warrior Peer Squad Leader’s and the material in volunteer’s work packets.”
Alisha proves you can find solutions by looking into other similar programs. She researched and found resources around her and used it to the advantage of her organization.


Mallory Returns – My VM Story – The Samaritan Women

We’re happy to have Mallory join us again for her second service year with Volunteer Maryland! “As I start my second term of service with Volunteer Maryland, I have thought a lot about how much I’ve learned at my service site, The Samaritan Women.” The Samaritan Women is a long-term residential program for women who have survived domestic sex trafficking, and is located on a beautiful farm in southwest Baltimore City.

“In working with volunteers at The Samaritan Women, I get to share with the community about the enormous problem of human trafficking–also known as slavery–also known as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Recent statistics have been released that tell us that human trafficking is almost twice the problem we thought: I used to tell volunteer groups that 28 million people are still enslaved in labor and sex trafficking worldwide. Now I have to tell them 48 million are enslaved.” Mallory noted, “this isn’t to say that trafficking has doubled in the past year, but that we are still learning the full extent of this crime and about the proliferation of slavery worldwide.”

Before joining AmeriCorps, Mallory accomplished one of her biggest personal goals; completing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing through a fellowship at Hollins University. “Writing is a craft I hope to hone throughout my life!” In her spare time she enjoys writing and even arranging flowers.

“I love leading volunteer groups in projects on our amazing farm (the largest in Baltimore City), or beautifying the grounds of our 23-acre Maryland Historic Trust property. It was hard to imagine leaving after just one service term: there is so much work to be done, and it’s such a pleasure to work with our amazing volunteers at The Samaritan Women. Last year I had the privilege of recruiting and managing almost 900 volunteers during my service year at The Samaritan Women–this is why being a volunteer coordinator fills me with hope, despite the darkness of trafficking. I get to see the community’s eagerness to answer this need and work to end human trafficking and provide opportunities for restoration and hope for survivors of trafficking.

I can’t say enough about how seeing the impact volunteers make on our program and our residence has shifted my perspective towards lifelong service. During my last service year, I met people who have dedicated their lives to feeding the homeless, reaching out to those struggling with addiction, providing housing and therapeutic spaces for survivors of sex trafficking, and other urgent community needs. It’s hard to imagine going back to a cubicle after seeing these things. In my future after AmeriCorps, I hope to continue working to empower the community to make an impact on these needs, whether as a volunteer or in my career.

After AmeriCorps, I hope to stay involved in anti-trafficking awareness efforts. If someone had told me two years ago that I’d take on a role that required early morning public speaking in my gym clothes, I wouldn’t have believed it. But now almost every Saturday morning I am out on The Samaritan Women’s farm, sharing with our volunteers and leading them in service projects, and it’s an absolute pleasure. When this cause resonated with me so deeply it wasn’t hard to step out of my comfort zone. Serving at The Samaritan Women has empowered me to find my voice for survivors of trafficking and for youth in our communities who are vulnerable to being trafficked, and I hope to continue using my voice to fight for these populations in any way I can, during this service year and in the future.”

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at The Samaritan Women by visiting

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, call 410-697-9285 or visit today!

Nanette – My VM Story – The Seed School of Maryland

Please welcome Nanette who is serving at The Seed School of Maryland in Baltimore.

“One thing that is good to know about me is that I value communication. I feel that it is essential to any experience, whether personal or professional. Another thing that is  good to know about me is that if I do not know the answer to a question I am willing to do the research to find out any answers. I am proud of the fact that I will be the first college graduate in my family. I have eight classes to complete my AA degree. Some tidbits to know about me are : I look much younger than my age, I have an identical twin sister, I have been at the same job for fifteen years, and that helping others makes me feel good about myself.”

Nanette was looking to change careers so that she could work with volunteers. “America and Volunteer Maryland can give me on the job training that will be invaluable in my career field. I enjoy making a difference in the lives of others. I am already an AmeriCorps alumni thanks to another AmeriCorps program. I am motivated by knowing that the training will make a difference while learning new skills! Applying for the position was the easy part. The difficult part is maintaining the commitment.” Nanette is here to stay!

During her service year, Nanette hopes to learn networking skills, grant writing, volunteer recruitment, training and retention. “For my long term goals I hope to establish programs exactly like Volunteer Maryland.”

To learn more about Nanette and volunteer opportunities at The Seed School of Maryland visit

Jonathan – My VM Story – Stepping Stones Shelter

Jonathan was born in Israel and grew up in Philadelphia, before moving to Frederick, Maryland in 2013. He interned for three summers at the United Way of Frederick County while attending college at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. “I also studied abroad at the University of York in northern England and graduated from Brandeis in May of 2017 with a major in History and a minor in Creative Writing.”

At United Way, part of Jonathan’s role involved writing, editing, and compiling their annual report, in 2015 and 2016. When not at work, he enjoys reading, creative writing, and practicing martial arts.

“It takes a village to raise a child, but I believe that it is the child’s responsibility to give back to their village. I have been incredibly privileged as a young man, and I want to use the skills and gifts that I have been given to help others. AmeriCorps also seemed like an excellent choice with which to spend a year, learning valuable skills and gaining experience.”

“I was attracted to serve because it meant a chance to help others and to gain valuable experience in the non-profit world, coordinating volunteers, organizing events, and working with a variety of people from different organizations and walks of life. My goal is to work in service to others, and a year with AmeriCorps and a transitional shelter for the homeless will help me to attain the necessary skills to do so more effectively.”

Jonathan is serving at Stepping Stones Shelter in Montgomery County. If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities at this site please visit

If you know of an organization that would like to partner with Volunteer Maryland and have an AmeriCorps Member serve as Volunteer Coordinator in the upcoming 2018-2019 service year please visit email outreach manager Nathan Cabrera at to learn more.

Members in Action! – Jessica

Jessica Plummer found her belonging in the community by volunteering at her site for the Live Out Loud obstacle run.
She says: “This was my first time attending this event and I volunteered as a spotter for runners. I stood at the top of the hill and cheered runners on to keep going and as runners came up I directed them to the next obstacle so they stayed on course. This was such an exciting time because I was able to see so many of the participants. Moms were running with their daughters, dads with their son’s, entire families and groups of friends all together. These people were running for a cause to raise money to feed the hungry in Calvert County and they were having fun doing it. Friends and families all came out to take pictures and cheer the runners on and capture that moment when the runners finished the race. It was an exciting time and it was a special time because this is a community that I am becoming familiar with and they weren’t just a bunch of strangers but people and faces I am getting to know. So when people came running up it was even more fun to cheer them on because I recognized them and knew their name.
After the races were over I was able to watch the awards ceremony which was really adorable. A young girl made a cape that said End hunger and she wore a tutu and she won the most spirited award. A little 5 year old boy covered in mud won the muddiest award.
The most amazing part was at the very end when the Bertolaccini family stepped up to the platform to acknowledge their son who passed in 2004. After the brief synopsis of Matt’s story they counted to 3 and then together all of the runners, friends and family chanted 3 times “Live Out Loud.” I was amazed at how special this event was. The tragic death of this young teen could have had a lasting crippling effect on the Bertolocinni family yet they chose to turn that pain around and use it for a good purpose.
The impact on the community is a beautiful and positive one. Hundreds of people running together, eating together, listening to music and laughing together all while serving a good cause was a very special moment for me as a volunteer who was new to this event. I felt happy to see the community thriving together and I was honored to serve them.”

It’s great to be a part of community that finds strength, courage and purpose in the face of a tragedy. #PickMeUpWednesday

Renita – VM Story – The Colleens Perkins Bailey Project

Renita describes herself as a people person and active learner. “I love helping people and I am not perfect even if I want to be. In my imperfection I can still help others see that even though life is hard it is still worth living to the best of your ability because the reward is in the struggle.”

On her spare time Renita is a baker! “I make my own organic products, I travel, hunt, farm, plant my own food, visit museums, I live life I don’t let life live me.”

She decided to do a service year with Volunteer Maryland to use her master degree skills in Public Administration to help those “who have less than I do.”

“We all have a story but some just can’t or don’t know how to get help to complete their story of life. That is why I want to help them get the things they need to enjoy their journey throughout their lives and reach their destination.”

“I am hoping to create a successful volunteer program and database that the CPB can use in their future CKD awareness fundraisers and volunteer work. I can use these skills in applying for other jobs in the non-profit directors sector and along with my master degree I can effectively help build other non-profit organizations volunteer programs and fundraising databases up as well.”

You can learn more about Renita and the volunteer opportunities at The Colleen Perkins-Bailey Project for Kidney Disease by visiting


Flor de Lis – My VM Story

My name is Flor de Lis, it is a French name but I was born in Nicaragua (the center of Central America!). I came to the United States when I was 12 years old. I am fluent in Spanish, English and I can understand French more than I can speak it. I recently graduated from Towson University with a double major in International Studies and Spanish Literature and a minor in Theatre. During my time in college I was able to travel to Spain, France, Italy and Cuba as part of two different study abroad programs. I love learning about different cultures, languages and backgrounds. I love learning about where people com from and how they got to where they are today.

I am mostly proud of having graduated within four years even when I had to take many different classes for  three different subjects of focus. I am also proud of my ability to adapt to any environment and situation which allowed me to familiarize myself with the lifestyle in the US and also to learn English quickly. This ability to adapt has also allowed me to travel and get to know a lot of people and understand their customs and cultures.

Things to know about me:

  • I love traveling, I hope to travel a lot more in the future. The number one place to visit in my bucket list is Norway, its sceneries are jawdropping!
  • I am an only child
  • I love all types of music but my favorite is the old country music from my collection of vinyls.
  • I come from a family that loves to cook and I hope to go to cooking school one day.

I learned of AmeriCorps and the great work its members do all over the country my sophomore year of college when I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group in Alabama. While I was looking for jobs after college my senior year, I met two members of Volunteer Maryland Class 29 during a job fair and they explained to me what VM was about. These two members gave me so much hope for what I could do after college and they encouraged me to apply.

As I learned more about Volunteer Maryland I saw the great work they do along with different non-profit organizations to improve and strengthen our communities. Not to mention that the fact that they involved volunteers drew me in even more. During my school years I had different opportunities to be a volunteer in my community and I can certainly say I learned so much more about myself and about how the world works than from the jobs I have had before. For this reason, I accepted the challenge of being part of Volunteer Maryland to continue the culture of volunteerism in Maryland and to hopefully inspire other young people to be involved and have a sense of unity, respect and acceptance in their communities so one day we can expand this change to the rest of the world.

As cheesy as it might sound I do want to change the world and given that being part of VM Class 30 is already changing my life by helping me improve my skills in my career and my personal life, I am confident that I can take this to a bigger spectrum in the future.

I hope to gain a lot from my experience in this program. I want to gain skills and experiences throughout the year. I know that I will be challenged and I will have many opportunities to succeed and fail. I like to be challenged so I can become improve everyday and I expect this to happen during this year.

I want to be able to network and become more confident about my knowledge and my skills and the way I present them to other people. I also expect to become a better public speaker, to present my ideas with ease and confidence so others can understand my points of view.

As for my long-term expectations, I hope to use all the skills I will be learning and putting to practice to help me find myself in the world and give me an idea of what I want to do in the future personally and professionally. I expect to learn from my challenges and to eventually become a more confident person who know what she will be doing with the rest of her life.

Flor de Lis is serving at Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area where she is recruiting volunteers for the Children’s Services, Youth Haven and Refugee & Immigration Services Programs.  A total of 60 volunteers will be recruited who will fill various roles in these programs and support the organizations central mission.

Bethany – My VM Story – Carroll County Forestry Board

Bethany has always loved spending time outdoors and doing volunteer activities. In high school, she served as a counselor at Camp Hashawha teaching kids about wildlife. “This experience made me realize that I wanted to make a career out of improving the environment.” To start making this dream a reality, Bethany graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Juniata College in May 2017.

“I first heard about Americorps while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. I am very motivated by learning through new experiences, and thought that serving for Americorps would be a good way to spend my time while I develop my environmental career. Once I discovered that Volunteer Maryland partnered with the Carroll County Forestry Board, I was convinced that this was the perfect position for me. I am excited to learn more about what it takes to maintain a forest.”

“I am hoping to gain leadership skills from Volunteer Maryland, which will benefit my daily life. I also expect that serving for the Carroll County Forestry Board will allow me to apply and expand upon my environmental training and experience. This will help push me toward my long term goal of obtaining a position with a government agency focused in the environmental science field, such as the EPA.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Carroll County Forestry Board you may visit If you know of an organization interested in volunteer management opportunities by having an AmeriCorps Member serve at their organization please visit

Members in Action! – Rachel

How do you reengage a forgotten opportunity. Rachel Ebz at St. Francis faced this challenge and accomplished more than expected. She and her site supervisor reached out to a company, MediaStar Promotions that had expressed interest in volunteering. Despite their delay in response, they had a 50 person group volunteer day on November 17th.

According to Rachel, “MediaStar intends to donate time, resources, and support to St. Francis in the way of revamping the Power Bucks store, and redesigning their classrooms, and computer lab! Additionally, 90% of the materials that they are donating and designs that they are implementing will be removable – meaning they can re-apply the designs and materials after the remodel!”

In her own words, “I’m proud that we have identified a solution that can accommodate our capital campaign and our urgent need for structural and design improvements.”

Renee – My VM Story – So What Else

Renee says she likes working with people but values time to herself as well. “Quiet Te’Renee’ does not like being bothered when there is a lot of work to be done.” She’s focused and “proud of the fact that I have been through so much in my life and I am still pushing to become better every day. I am also proud that I choose to dedicate my time to helping others. I am very determined and I choose not to break under pressure. I love children and I love seeing them smile. Their smiles brighten my day, especially when I am able to play a part in the reason. Everyone needs something to look forward to and I like being able to give a child a place to be able to look forward to coming back to.”

Renee is no stranger to AmeriCorps and has completed a service term before and grew professionally because of it. “I decided after I graduated that I wanted to continue that growth. Volunteer Maryland had a great opportunity that I was interested in that involved children. She is currently serving at So What Else where she’ll be managing volunteers who will assist with the Summer and Spring Olympics program, After-School Classroom Assistance to include the Green Path Academy Program. The AmeriCorps member will also recruit volunteers for environmental clean up projects in local public lands.

“I am hoping to gain more experience working with children as well as gaining some experience working in the office as well as improving my computer skills. I also want to take steps to becoming a better leader through this experience. I want to become the best people-person I can possibly be and I want to gain at least one long-term relationship with the VM team and So What Else team.  The skills I am hoping to gain will fit into my long-term goals because I plan on continuing to work with children. Volunteer Maryland will help me as I take the necessary steps to achieving this goal.”

You can learn more about Renee and volunteer opportunities at So What Else by visiting 

If you know an organization that would like to partner with Volunteer Maryland and have an AmeriCorps Member serve as Volunteer Coordinator at your site we are currently recruiting for partner organizations. More info can be found here.