Anita Goehringer, The Elms Environmental Education Center, St. Mary’s Public Schools

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About her decision to serve as VMC with the Elms Environmental Education Center, Anita explains “I came to Volunteer Maryland at a time in my life when I questioned my desire to continue a long-standing career in Ergonomics Consulting. I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to potentially make a difference in something that I have gravitated to all my life—nature, plants and the environment. I saw a real need at the Elms, and I wanted to be part of the change.”

The Elms Environmental Education Center provides onsite, sequentially-developed, curriculum-integrated environmental education programs to 10,000 Pre-K-12 students annually from St. Mary’s County public and private schools. Anita is working with the Native Plant Nursery program, and site-based and school-based environmental improvement and related instruction. She’s also recruiting 53 new volunteers who assist education programs, maintain the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens and nursery, and maintain, restore and extend trails at the Elms.

“I feel invigorated  and empowered to have an opportunity to use my knowledge, skills and life experiences to make a positive change in something so important,” Anita shares. “I returned for year two at the Elms because of my strong belief in volunteer service and helping to build community around a common goal—preserving, nurturing and sustaining the environment and the natural world.”

 

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Lakeal Ellis, Allegany College of Maryland

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A former nurse and current student at Allegany College of Maryland, Lakeal shares, “My purpose is to be present for people in whatever stage in life and do whatever comes naturally for me to make lives better.”

Lakeal is living out that purpose as VMC with Allegany College of Maryland, which, in partnership with Garrett College and Frostburg State University, is founding a Volunteer Center to serve Western Maryland.  To support these founding efforts, Lakeal is recruiting community volunteers to serve with several Allegany and Garrett County agencies. These community volunteers engage in stewardship of public land, read to kindergarten students, participate with local food drives and maintain community gardens.

About her year of service, Lakeal shares, “I hope to gain more community relationships and help create a lasting program that will be around long after I have served.”

Archie Slade, St. Francis Neighborhood Center

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A recent UMBC graduate, Archie shares “I’m a military brat, which means I moved around a lot as a child. I have a B.A. in English, and I love words. I love absorbing facts and information that seem useless and storing them away until I need them.

“The force that drove me to apply with Volunteer Maryland was the force of, ‘I just graduated from college and I have no idea what to do with the rest of my life.’ After four years of school, I was excited by the promise of a year-long position that offered something completely different from the rarefied, theoretical world of academia. I wanted to be out in the world, providing actual benefit to other humans. I was sick of discussing what was wrong with the world – I wanted to go out and change it! Being a VMC with St. Francis Neighborhood Center is an amazing opportunity to get into the world of service, and, as a bonus, the Volunteer Maryland support team helps make it a smooth and effective transition. It was really just the right opportunity at the right time of my life.

“I am hoping to gain practical skills and field experience in the realm of volunteerism, service, and community initiatives. I am hoping to learn how to recruit volunteers and how to get them fired up, how to motivate people to work for free. If in this period of time I could make a measurable, lasting difference in the life of one person then I would consider it a success, or if I could make a measurable, lasting, positive change for the organization then that would also be a success. This is a year for me to just focus on the role that I play in the world, and work on sending my energy outwards, in service.”

MaryAnn Eleanya, Baltimore Bar Foundation

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A recent Cornell University graduate, MaryAnn shares, “I am doing a term of service with Volunteer Maryland because I want to learn more about my interests and myself and at the same time give back to a struggling community. Looking back at the past few years of my life, I’d like to think that I have been very fortunate to receive a great education. Based on that reflection, I believe that it is only fair that I pay it forward in any way that I can.”

MaryAnn is serving as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Baltimore Bar Foundation’s Senior Legal Services program. Founded in 1992 as Legal Services to the Elderly, Senior Legal Services provides vital pro bono legal services to low-income seniors, aged 60 and over, in Baltimore City. In her role, MaryAnn is recruiting 30 new volunteer attorneys who represent clients, visit senior centers, volunteer for the  annual Law Day for Seniors, and volunteer with quarterly estate planning clinics held throughout Baltimore City. MaryAnn is also developing a sustainable volunteer recruitment plan and a volunteer recognition plan that acknowledges and rewards specific achievements.

MaryAnn explains, “From this experience I hope to be able to gain the confidence to interact with different kinds of people. I also hope to gain valuable skills in leadership, empathy and determination. This will fit into my long term goals because whether I decide to pursue further education or pursue employment, these are important skills.”

Mallory Jones, The Samaritan Women

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Mallory, a recent recipient of an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University, is already looking ahead to the publication of her first book.

At the same time, she is deeply committed to her service as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with The Samaritan Women, a comprehensive recovery center for adult female survivors of domestic sex trafficking. Mallory learned about The Samaritan Women several years ago, and shares, “I am thrilled to join this organization, which will celebrate ten years of fighting modern-day slavery in 2017. Though the facts of human trafficking are sobering, I am so excited to work for this organization and help increase their capacity to service this great need by working with our wonderful volunteers!”

As she serves, Mallory hopes to learn more about this important issue. She explains, “One hope I have for this year is that I will become more educated about human trafficking in the local and global community. This form of exploitation is so removed from the public eye, but it is everywhere, and unfortunately our decisions as individual consumers can make us complicit in it. From what I’ve learned so far, it seems that many ‘cheap’ products are cheap as a result of exploitation and enslaved laborers. Over the next year I want to transform my spending habits and learn how to avoid food, clothing, and other products which are a product of human trafficking. My greatest hope is that my work over the next year will make a meaningful contribution to fighting domestic and global exploitation.”

Madison Simms, Stepping Stones Shelter

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About her service as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Stepping Stones Shelter, University of Maryland graduate Madison reflects, “I chose to embark on this service year for many reasons. I felt that it would be the best way to accelerate my career right out of college. I also believe in the importance of volunteering as it can expose participants to charitable work for the pure enjoyment of the activity.”

Madison knows about the pleasure of volunteering from her own experience, explaining, “Last year I was able to volunteer with Trellis Services, a school that supports behavioral interventions for children diagnosed with Autism spectrum and related disorders. Because of this experience, I was able to confirm that I would love to pursue a career helping children with developmental and behavioral disorders.”

Madison sees this year as a bridge to that career, sharing, “Volunteer Maryland is providing me with the opportunity to gain and practice multiple valuable skills through this intense yet humanitarian position. These skills include leading others in service, public speaking skills, professional writing, and professional networking. While I’m unsure as to what my future holds, I want to be able to help others who can’t help themselves. My true passion is fostering healthy development for children in adversity.” 

Ellen Sangiamo, Shepherd’s Clinic

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A second-year Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at Shepherd’s Clinic and Joy Wellness Center, Ellen says, “I signed on to serve last year after having been a volunteer at the clinic for almost 2 years. I was initially drawn to volunteer when I heard Dr. Melissa DeLong speak of Shepherd’s Clinic’s mission to provide free, quality integrative healthcare to people who are unable to afford it. In addition to routine and specialty medical care, the clinic also has behavioral health providers and a wellness center that offers acupuncture, reflexology and craniosacral therapy. There are also classes in yoga, meditation, exercise and nutrition. The fact that the clinic is almost entirely volunteer-driven was the icing on the cake. I knew that I had to be a part of it.”

Ellen continues, “My first year as a VMC at Shepherd’s Clinic & Joy Wellness gave me the opportunity to become totally immersed and engaged in the cycle of volunteer program development.  I focused on recruitment, retention and volunteer appreciation. I  also had the opportunity to develop a new volunteer program, the Insurance Counseling Program.”

About her goals for a second year, Ellen explains, “This year, my focus is on sustaining the volunteer program, with all systems, policies and procedures fine-tuned and easily accessible.”

Ellen concludes by reflecting, “Now, after having served for one year I can say that I have never before felt the charge, energy, and deep satisfaction that comes from doing work that I feel passionately about alongside people who feel that same and share my optimism for effecting change. It has been a pivotal experience in my life and I look forward to the opportunity to serve for  a second year.”

 

Abby Doyle, MakingChange

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A graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Abby honed her leadership skills as manager of the college’s designated driving service, SafeRide. About that experience, she shares, “This job helped cultivate my professional skills while growing my love for helping a community.”

About her decision to serve, Abby explains, “I heard about Volunteer Maryland from a friend who had participated in the program the previous year. In my search for employment, I knew that I wanted to work in a collaborative environment that made a difference in my community. Serving as VMC with MakingChange seemed like the perfect fit! Although I know it will come with its set of challenges, I believe the reward of giving yourself over to a cause is worth it.”

Abby continues, “Over the course of my service year I would like to achieve several goals in my own personal growth and the growth of my community. I would like to gain a better understanding of what it is like working in a more traditional office space. I would also like to hone in on my communication skills, especially in the area of public speaking. Most importantly, I would like to expand my perspective, and the perspectives of my volunteers, on poverty in our local area.”

Nick Yoder, Carroll County Forestry Board

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A recent graduate of the University of Maryland Master of Landscape Architecture Program, Nick is passionate about designing and maintaining wildlife habitats. This passion drew him to the Carroll County Forestry Board. He explains, “There is very little quality habitat in Carroll County due to development and agriculture. Because of this, local wildlife is suffering; unable to find suitable habitat for shelter and food. Since development and agriculture have large sources of support and funding in general, and are overwhelming forces when contrasted with the ideal of protecting wildlife habitat, I want to be a steward of the environment.”  

Nick is especially excited about inspiring environmental stewardship in others, explaining “I’m serving as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator because I want to become more comfortable with recruiting and managing volunteers. I have some management experience, but I have very little experience recruiting people for a greater cause and figuring out how to keep each volunteer motivated.”

As he serves, Nick says, “I just want to keep learning more about plant and animal identification, managing invasive species, and growing native plants. Whether I decide to go into management or design, I think this experience will be a stepping stone for my confidence and my career.”

Chigo Oguh, Dundalk Renaissance Corporation

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After completing two years of study toward a PharmD degree at the University of Maryland, Temple University graduate Chigo decided to press pause.

She explains, “I am taking a year off from my PharmD program, and I felt that during this year I should keep up with the motivation that got me into the program, which is the desire to serve others. I was very fortunate to meet a few people who served with Americorps and to learn how the program worked. I felt that Volunteer Maryland had a structure that would allow me to reach my fullest potential during my service year.”

Chigo is serving as Volunteer Maryland Coordinator with Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, where she will recruit volunteers who will assist older adults and people with disabilities by performing home maintenance and repairs, providing transportation to appointments and events, and aiding access to food and health care.

As she serves, Chigo hopes to accomplish a number of professional goals, saying, “I am hoping to gain a wider network outside of the field of pharmacy and the skills needed to revitalize a community. This fits into my long-term goals of providing and bringing attention to the care of underserved communities in and out of Baltimore City. With these skills and a positive attitude, I believe I can be an agent of lasting change to the healthcare system.”