Same Page-Ing For 2016

At our December training, Patrice led us through an activity she called, “Same Page-Ing.” It was a fairly literal session, in which all of the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, the Site Supervisors, and the Support Team were wrangled back into their handy-dandy, standard issue Volunteer Maryland Tool Books and onto the same page. Patrice went back through the schedule of deliverables and upcoming trainings and made sure we were all following a similar trajectory in the VM World. Admittedly, this is a pretty routine event for any organized group, but ever since Patrice dubbed the word “same page-ing,” I’ve been using it non-stop (as some VMCs and Site Supervisors might be wearily aware), because I like this idea of consistently re-aligning ourselves with a core mission.

People on the same page
Look at how empowering same page-ing can be! Especially when taken literally!

I was recently reminded of how much I like the idea of same page-ing by Vu Le’s blog post, “15 lessons for the nonprofit sector we learned in 2015.” The list begins with “1. An organization not built on strong values will crumble like dried hummus.” Truthfully, the whole blog post has me nodding and snapping my fingers in agreement, but it’s this first one that really rings true for me in the coming year, and not just because crumbly hummus is gross.

See, I’m a person who looks to (read: worries about) the future. I think about what comes next, and then what comes after that, and then after that, and then after that, and then when I die, what should they do with the body? This obsession with trying to see into the future is always exacerbated during this transitionary period between years. My mind starts to fly far from where I am now, and I forget the importance of presence. The reminder to get on the same page, reflect about who we are right now, and remind ourselves of the overarching mission (whether that be our personal mission, our organization’s mission, our family’s mission, etc.) is grounding. It simultaneously stems anxiety and keeps us conscious about what we are doing right now.

Leslie Knope GIF
In the new year, I hope we can all do some same page-ing. I hope that when we’re catapulted into 2016 we will remember the mission that motivates us to act and to be. Maybe that involves some sitting down and clarifying, perhaps editing, and maybe a gentle cutting of bits and pieces. Maybe it involves a discussion with family, friends, co-workers, etc. Maybe we should Google a template for mission drafting. Either way, let’s remind ourselves of the values that found our motivations, and let’s be led by them. 

As we step into the new year, whether with trepidation or a bold leap, let’s get on the same page with our core values and our mission, and let them be the guiding lights into what is most assuredly going to be an adventure into the unknown.  


How Volunteer Work Benefits Everyone

February is a good time to check in on those goals we made back at the beginning of the year and see how we are doing.  Did you want to volunteer more, but haven’t been able to start yet?  Find new motivation in this article by Kara Grosse, Volunteer Maryland Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, as she lists the many benefits of volunteering.

As we move into the New Year, we find ourselves attempting to begin our resolutions as promised.  These resolutions usually fall along the lines of “eat healthier,” “workout more,” and “spend more time with my family.” These are all meaningful goals, and while they vary in their expression, the underlying motive of every resolution is generally the same — self-satisfaction.

The formula is simple: do better, feel better.  In this season of self-improvement, there is one often-overlooked resolution that will make you feel better, and that is volunteering.  Volunteering is not only a way to give back to your community, but it is a satisfaction mechanism as well.

Volunteering allows us to get out of the house and do well by our community.  Working for something you care about enables you to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  This can boost self-confidence and give you a stronger sense of identity.  Volunteering also has direct physical benefits.  A recent study found that people who allocate a significant amount of time to volunteering are more likely to have positive health outcomes, such as decreased depression, increased productivity and a longer lifespan.

Not only is volunteering great for mental and physical health, it allows us to stay connected.  It is a great way to meet new people, make new contacts and strengthen existing relationships.  Working on a project with others, you will discover similar interests and values.  It also helps individuals develop social and interpersonal skills that are instrumental in relationship building and networking.  Volunteering can strengthen the bonds between neighbors.

Volunteering also gives us a feeling of value.  When you volunteer, you know what you do is more than appreciated.  In 2011, the National Performance Measure declared that on average, an hour of volunteering is worth $21.79.

Here at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, we are well aware we could not pursue our mission without the incredible work of our devoted volunteers.  We depend on volunteers to help us restore local habitat, collect water quality samples, staff informational tables, run events like our Osprey Sprint Triathlon, clean up marshes and beaches, monitor wildlife populations, build floats for parades and much more.  All of these actions are essential in maintaining our coastal bays and keeping our watershed as clean and healthy as possible.

No matter the time of year, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program has ways for you to get your hands dirty while helping keep your watershed clean.

Whatever New Years’ resolutions you have this year, take a moment to consider adding another one to your list.  Volunteering is a fun and effective way to accomplish a number of personal goals with one activity.  We often forget that by contributing to our community, we can contribute to ourselves as well.  So, if you’re considering volunteering as a way of improving your life and community, Maryland Coastal Bays Program is always looking for willing hands.

Email Kara at or call 410-213-2297, ext.  111 for more information about volunteer opportunities.

Goals for a New Year

The new year is coming. Looking back over the year, what have you checked off as achievements, both personal and professional?

Looking back over 2012, I can say that I have lived in three different places, settled into what I hope will be my new home for awhile, enjoyed a number of uniquely Baltimorean experiences, and gotten involved in the rich heritage of city.  My service with Volunteer Maryland has given me the opportunity to learn and grow with all of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.

Recently, I have been revisiting some goals I set for myself as AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland.  I wanted to break the goals I had set down into small, achievable actions that I would be able to complete over the coming months.  One model that I really found helpful with this was S.M.A.R.T goals.  Since I have a lot I want to achieve over the next several months, I found it important to create deadlines and a checklist for each goal.  I’m never going to get around to better public speaking without some planning!

With a S.M.A.R.T. goal, I need (1) Specifics, not just a general statement, for example, about better public speaking skills.  My goal needs to be (2) Measurable; for example, I know my goal has been achieved when I feel comfortable with public speaking.  The goal should also be (3) Achievable; I would not want to set this as my goal if it will demotivate me or defeat me!  I know I have the knowledge to achieve better public speaking, and that it will just require me to stretch out of my comfort zone.  When I set this goal, I also have to make sure that it’s (4) Result-focused; so that I concentrate on becoming better and more comfortable, and not on how many speeches I may give. It also helps if the goal is (5) Time-bound.  Otherwise, like many of my past New Years resolutions, I might keep putting it off until the whole year has passed!  Setting check-in dates for myself will create accountability, and help this goal stay on track.

What goals do you or your organization have for this coming year?  I hope that 2013 will see me achieving my goals, and you with yours.