Big News! Volunteer Maryland is getting a new director! Check out our announcement!
I can remember when I first heard of Volunteer Maryland. I was taking a class at Notre Dame of Maryland University when my professor introduced herself. Surprise! It was Barbara Reynolds, Director of Volunteer Maryland. A few months later, a position announcement for VM’s Project and Resource Manager came to me through the AmeriCorps Alums network and I knew I just had to join this organization.
Before VM, I had never stayed in a job for more than 18 months; though I had the pleasure of working with a number of amazing organizations, I was always ready for the next big challenge. Until VM. Since January 2008, I have been at home at in the exciting, fulfilling challenge that is Volunteer Maryland. So it is bittersweet that, like leaving home for college, I’m saying goodbye to a place where I have both history and family.
During my time with VM, I’ve had the incredible pleasure of working with amazing people and organizations. I’ve gotten to know and travel Maryland, to learn from the strongest volunteer management training program that exists, and to become even more connected to the AmeriCorps network that I have known and loved since I was 21.
When I became Director, we were riding the national service high – the Serve America Act had passed only two months prior and we were all talking about the upcoming growth of AmeriCorps. Things changed quickly; I’ll never forget talking with our members less than a year later about the very real possibility that AmeriCorps could be eliminated because of proposed federal budget cuts.
But we’re VM and we’re AmeriCorps and so we rallied our spirits and did what mattered – we served. Since becoming VM’s Director in 2009, I’ve been witness to incredible impact. In the last four years, our members mobilized 24,452 volunteers who provided 282,028 hours of service to 178,792 community members; 87 percent of our Service Sites reported an increased ability to recruit volunteers; and 85 percent of prior Service Sites note that they sustained or improved their ability to recruit and manage volunteers beyond the VM partnership.
We also increased our collaborations with other AmeriCorps programs, instituting an annual networking event called “Destination AmeriCorps” that brings together AmeriCorps members serving at programs throughout MD. In 2013, VM hosted the fourth Destination AmeriCorps, which engaged 71 members, alumni, and staff from 13 programs across the State.
During the same timeframe, Volunteer Maryland was recognized nationally for the quality of our programming and impact. In 2010, VM was selected for inclusion in the publication “Transforming Communities through Services: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States,” published by Innovations in Civic Participation and America’s Service Commissions. In 2012, both the Volunteer Maryland program and I received nominations for National Service Impact Awards.
And, in a wonderful celebration that happened just two weeks after the birth of my son, we celebrated VM’s 20th anniversary with alumni, current and former Service Site partners, community supporters, and all three of our previous directors. With stories, photos, vintage video footage, and original program displays, we celebrated 20 years of incredible impact. I couldn’t be happier to have been part of such an event.
Over these years, I’ve worked alongside some of the most passionate, intelligent, resilient people I’ve ever met. I’ve seen growth in individuals, organizations, and communities that many wouldn’t have thought possible. And I’ve seen real growth in myself.
Thanks to the community of VM, I’ve learned how to enjoy networking, to better listen, to meet others where they are. I’ve learned to dance in the hallway of a government building and accept that I don’t have to have all of the answers or know the dance moves in order to be a leader.
After all of this time and all of these people and every one of these experiences, I struggle to imagine a September that doesn’t include Pre-Service Training. But, come this September, I’ll face a new challenge – one that I am so happy to take on. After VM, Experience Corps, NCCC, VISTA, and Learn and Serve, I now get to join the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.
It’s also a really exciting time for Volunteer Maryland as we welcome VM alum and Outreach Manager Extraordinaire, Patrice Beverly to the role of Director. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating her promotion to this position!
I’ve known for a long time that service is my thing, that AmeriCorps works. That enabling others to serve – and to serve well and effectively – is a calling. My time at VM helped solidify that and I remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Volunteer Maryland. So I bittersweetly say goodbye to VM and hello to AmeriCorps programs throughout our State. I can’t wait to work with you.