Volunteer Howard wrote a fun and provocative post recently: In the Super Bowl of Volunteer Efforts, Giants and Patriots Both NFL Champions. The writer highlights programs the Giants team is involved in that strengthen their communities. One of the programs the Giants team participates in is Read Across America, coming up in March. This year’s campaign will showcase Dr. Suess’ book and the upcoming movie, The Lorax (featuring the voices of Taylor Swift, Zach Effron, Danny Devito and Betty White).
Like the teachers and volunteers who participate in Reading Across America, we have a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator in VM24 who is also deeply committed to reading. Michelle Barrow, the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at the Barclay School, facilitates the Story Pals reading program. Michelle works diligently to recruit volunteers to do supplemental reading with students during the school day. In addition to the day-to-day work of coordinating volunteers, Michelle is focused on an equally important element of any Volunteer Maryland partnership – volunteer program sustainability. She is tirelessly pursuing means to ensure the program stays in place after her year of service ends in July. One possibility being considered is the Reading Partners program, new to the Baltimore area. Michelle has also developed partnerships with professors and service organizations at nearby Johns Hopkins University. The Barclay School received a generous donation from one of the campus service groups last fall. Another possibility for the continuation of the Story Pals program is to have students coordinate it as part of an internship. On March 2, the middle school students at the Barclay School will celebrate Read Across America Day by reading to the elementary students. Join them and read with a young person in your neighborhood!
The Giants and Patriots have prepared for this weekend’s game with a vision for long-term success. That is what Michelle is doing and a vision and plan for the future are important components of Volunteer Maryland. Establishing partnerships, like those Michelle has developed for the Barclay School, lead toward sustainable volunteer programs. In best practices of volunteer management, that’s making it to the Super Bowl!

Where in the World (Maryland) is Volunteer Maryland Class 24?

Well, let’s start with where they came from. Some members of Volunteer Maryland Class 24 celebrated their college graduation last spring. Others are seasoned professionals. And, a few packed up and moved from other parts of the country to spend the next year strengthening communities and enhancing volunteer programs here in the Maryland. Lunchtime conversations during pre-service training were pretty humorous to someone who has lived here forever. “Fall is the best time of year in Maryland.” Ha! I think I was starting to get moldy by the time October finally arrived, not to mention how great my hair looked with all the humidity. “You won’t need a winter coat, it doesn’t get that cold.” Not cold enough for a coat? I didn’t confide my favorite winter pastime is cross country skiing through the woods in central Anne Arundel County. Besides, the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are going to be too busy to notice whether it is 80 or 20 degrees, both of which are entirely possible. By the time you read this, they will have been at their service sites just two weeks. So, let’s take a look at some of the places in our communities they are serving.
Joy and I each have a section of the class for which we are the Peer Leader. I fondly refer to the group I am assigned as “my peeps.” “My Peeps” stretch across the state, from Baltimore to St. Mary’s County. While the missions of their Service Sites vary, each one is placed at a school, community nonprofit, or government agency, with the purpose of providing effective volunteer programming.
Several Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are at educational sites in Baltimore City: Digital Harbor High School, Barclay School, St. Francis Neighborhood Center,

and Baltimore SquashWise. Marie, Michelle, Abby and Ayana are recruiting and managing volunteers for programs focused on tutoring, youth and community development, and enrichment. In Southern Maryland, Volunteer Maryland partnered with the Greenwell Foundation

to provide accessible and inclusive experiences for residents with and without disabilities in the southern counties; think Therapeutic Horsemanship and kayaking, I am sure Jackson needs you!
 In the DC metropolitan area, Heather is working on river restoration with the Anacostia Watershed Society. Captain John Smith wrote in his journal that the area was a paradise of pleasant springs in the early 1600s. I wonder what he would say today. Brandon is starting an urban agriculture program through Suitland Family and Life Development Corporation at the Drew Freeman Middle School. What a great way for the students there to learn where food comes from. At Volunteers of America Chesapeake, Lynelle is enlisting volunteers to serve as life skills tutors, teach resume writing, interviewing, and other tasks to inspire self-reliance and hope. Our Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at Asian American LEAD, Sumiko, is coordinating area college student volunteers to provide youth development and educational enrichment for low-income Asian American children. At Community Support Services, Katie is implementing a new peer mentoring program. They have a Fine Arts Program coming up on October 30, 2011 if you’d like to learn more about how they create community for developmentally disabled and autistic individuals.
Karen, with the Department of Parks Cultural Resources Stewardship Section, is making history come alive! She is working to get interpretive guides at Oakley Cabin, the Underground Railroad Experience Trail       and the Josiah Henson Special Park in Montgomery County. Celebrate Maryland Emancipation Day with her. At the Housing Initiative Partnership, Carlos is working with the Foreclosure Prevention program. They need volunteers to serve as homebuyer educators and pre-purchase counselors. If you are a detail oriented person, this might be for you. Zarqa is looking for instructors for computer classes, GED preparation and ESL tutoring at the Tony Davis Family Resource Center at Seneca Ridge. Their program assists low-income residents pursuing self-sufficiency. Over at Stepping Stones Shelter, Liz manages a program to transition homeless families from crisis to stability in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. She is recruiting volunteers to help with childcare, meal preparation and program facilitation.
Click on the link to a site near you to get engaged in your community. When the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator asks how you learned about the program, tell them I sent you!