The end of an Era, the continuation of a lifestyle

When I joined AmeriCorps two years ago, I chose a lifestyle of service and I will continue to embrace that AmeriCorps_logolifestyle long after I’ve moved on from my AmeriJourney. Next week, my term of service with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps will conclude and since my last post dealt with reflection and looking back, this final post will tackle looking towards the future.

Volunteer Maryland taught me that service can come in all shapes and sizes and even though I’ll be transitioning out of my AmeriRole, I will still engage in direct service and strive to impact the communities in which I live. I will also continue to cultivate the relationships and networks that I built as an AmeriCorps Member. The VM Program prides itself on its diversity and it’s that diversity that allowed me to meet people from all walks of life and gave me the chance to have some incredible experiences and adventures with those people. As a VM Alum, I plan to engage my fellow alums and current VM members and will remain connected with the Program that gave me the chance to explore my passions and join others who shared my love of service. As an AmeriCorps Alum, I will continue to GET THINGS DONE and I will embrace the values of the AmeriCorps Alumni Pledge.

 

I am an AmeriCorps Alum and 

I make a difference in my community. 

I believe that AmeriCorps is one year 

in a lifetime of service. 

I pledge to continue to serve in 

all aspects of my life. 

I took action, and will continue to serve. 

I sought common ground, and 

will build community throughout my life. 

I persevered, and 

will live each day with conviction. 

I will lead by example. 

I will engage other people 

as we make our world a better place. 

I join the AmeriCorps alumni before me 

as we harness our energy 

to inspire those yet to come. 

Together, we will continue to GET THINGS DONE!

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Scoring Goals VM Style

Blog picFor the last few weeks the world has been enthralled in goals; World Cup Soccer Goals. During that time, I too have spent my time focusing on goals; personal goals. At the beginning of my term of service with Volunteer Maryland(VM)  I was tasked with creating personal and professional goals, and as my service term winds down I’ve done some assessing. Successes and shortcomings are part of any goal setting process and as look back on my time with Volunteer Maryland I am pleased by my successes and motivated by my shortcomings.

One of the biggest goals I set for myself this year was the goal of improving my networking skills in order to expand my network potential and the lasting impact of my encounters with other professionals. During my first term of service as an AmeriCorps Member, I engaged in networking in several professional settings and made connections with other, but this year I knew I needed to do more. With the help of the Volunteer Maryland Support Team, I jumped right into networking during my first weeks as a Peer Leader. Getting to know the staff here at VM and meeting people in our offices and elsewhere on an almost constant basis gave me the chance to start networking from day one and started me down the field towards a scoring goal . The training I received through Volunteer Maryland also helped to accelerate my goal reaching aspirations. Each year, VM trains Volunteer Maryland Coordinators in the art of networking starting with their pre-service training and continuing through the year, with additional training’s and opportunities to practice this necessary skill. As a benefit of being a Peer Leader, I have the privilege of also participating in those training’s and the knowledge I gained was expansive. I learned about topics like how to approach networking settings, how to prepare ahead of time, and how to follow-up after an event. I also learned that networking can occur in a variety of settings; everything from meet-and-greets to lunch and learns, to training’s can serve as networking opportunities and being able to recognize and take advantage of those is the key to successfully building and utilizing networking skills.

Through site visits, social activities, team meetings, and direct service I have simultaneously gained additional knowledge about networking and put it into practice. One of the concepts that truly stuck with me this year was the idea that networking should be about knowing what you have to offer others. Going into a networking event with the mindset of finding someone who has something to offer you can be detrimental and will overall limit your chance of successful network building. I also realized that having resources and expertise that I can offer if the situation warrants helped build my confidence in networking settings. With everything I have learned and practiced in regards to networking, I can safely say that this year I lined up my shot, gave the biggest kick I could, and scored a goal with an assist from the Volunteer Maryland team.

 

A Great Start to a Season of Networking!

On October 27, we kicked off a new series of Networking and Information sessions.  You’ll remember that we started these sessions last year as a way to meet new people, learn about community issues and concerns, and help develop relationships and build connections with organizations throughout Maryland.  Our first one here in Baltimore (at the lovely Cylburn Arboretum) definitely helped to do that and more.

The first exciting this about the day was that we co-hosted the session with Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU).  Volunteer Maryland and BVU support volunteer programs in very different ways and it was exciting to be able to collaborate in this way.  Together, we spent two hours with about 25 people from 20 organizations in Baltimore.  Over the course of the session, we had the opportunity to hear about challenges and successes in each organization’s volunteer programs.  In small groups, we discussed episodic and ongoing volunteerism and looked at volunteer recruitment, retention, recognition, and more.

With nonprofit budgets so tight, it feels incredibly rare to be able to come together to simply network and share ideas and resources; conferences are sometimes out of reach or we simply can’t get away.  This session gave everyone the opportunity to learn in a relaxed (and free) setting.  What a delight!

For some of the organizations that had staff at the session, we may be able to partner next year to help them build or improve their volunteer program.  We know that VM can be a great fit for some organizations that provide direct service and really need a full-time person to come in and set some program structures and recruit those volunteers!  For other organizations, they may need some new ideas or a quick refresher on some volunteer management best practices; they’ll be able to benefit from BVU’s series of Lunch and Learns.  (The next one is this Thursday and you can register here.)  Our hope is that everyone who attended walked away having made a new connection, learned something new, or gained at least one good resource to look into back at the office.  Partnering with BVU helped us to provide a nice, well-rounded session to Baltimore organizations.

We’re now looking forward to continuing the series at other locations throughout Maryland over the next couple of months.  We’re coming to Frederick tomorrow, Charles County next week, and will be adding more dates as we move through the winter.  If you’d like to spend some time networking and sharing information and ideas about volunteer programs, please join us!  Dates, locations, and registration are here.