Tales from the Road

As the Program Manager of Volunteer Maryland, I feel so lucky to get to work with an incredible group of individuals.  Our AmeriCorps members, better known as Volunteer Maryland Coordinators (VMCs), work tirelessly to support and refine volunteer programs at nonprofit organizations across Maryland.  With the amazing guidance from their designated supervisor (a.k.a. their Site Supervisor), wonderful things happen in less than a year of partnership.

I get to learn more about these efforts when I visit each of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and Site Supervisors each fall/winter.  For the past two and a half months, I have engaged in what we like to call our “site visit season.”  This is a very educational experience in which I travel with a member of our Support Team to meet with each of our 30 partnership sites.  This is one of my favorite parts of my role, as I get a first-hand glimpse of where our AmeriCorps members are serving, as well as gain the opportunity to reflect and learn more about their service.

The knowledge and stories from the site visits have been so insightful and inspiring. Listening to such positive progress is an important reminder of the great things Volunteer Maryland Coordinators are able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I’d like to share with you a few reflections from the site visits that exhibit the impact of our AmeriCorps members.

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators research and implement smart tools that refine the process of volunteer management.

For example, Brinley, VMC at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Washington County, recently instituted a new tracking tool called OurVolts.  OurVolts can be used as an app on a mobile phone, making the process of reporting hours convenient and accessible for volunteers. This process will not only be easy for the volunteers, but help the organization gain an accurate understanding of how many hours their volunteers will serve.  As a result, this data will also be useful for reporting and recognition purposes.

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators understand the importance of recognizing volunteers.

The effort to celebrate the hard work of volunteers has a lasting impact on the quality of the volunteer experience.  An example of such recognition occurs in Baltimore where Montressa develops a regular “Volunteer of the Month” spotlight to recognize outstanding volunteers who serve at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center.  Also, Jessica, the VMC for the Frederick County Department of Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, is developing ongoing recognition events, and will soon be hosting a celebration titled “We Love Our Volunteers” (cleverly tying into Valentine’s Day!).

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators build meaningful connections.

This occurs on a such a significant and multi-faceted level.  Bintou, who serves at Moveable Feast, facilitates orientations for volunteers before they assist with preparation and packaging of nutritious food that will go to individuals who are fighting severe illnesses.  Through her orientation, Bintou connects volunteers with the mission and history of the volunteer program, making the experience so much more effective and rich for all involved.  Over at Education Based Latino Outreach, Johana builds connections with staff through weekly meetings, during which they discuss the progress of volunteers and additional resources to support volunteers.  Through relationship building, the staff can work together more cohesively to best support and supervise volunteers.

While the next piece of information did not necessarily derive from the site visits, it would be a shame to not include it!

Volunteer Maryland Coordinators recruit and manage qualified volunteers as a result of their strategic outreach methods.  I’m proud to share that since October 2014, this group has recruited nearly 900 volunteers and helped manage over 4000 volunteers.  Collectively these 4000+ volunteers have served over 9,000 Marylanders.  Wow!

This is just a snapshot of some of the great work that’s being done by the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators in Class 27, and so much more is yet to come this year!

Reyna and Johana (EBLO)
Reyna (Site Supervisor) and Johana (Volunteer Maryland Coordinator) are a great team at Education Based Latino Outreach.
A group pose during a site visit with Partners In Care. Each person in the photo is or has been an AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland!

Volunteer Walk of Fame

National Volunteer Week is just around the corner!  Are you looking for a fun, simple, almost no cost, way to tell your volunteers how great they are? Present them with a Volunteer Walk of Fame.  You need:  cardboard (rescue a box from the recycling), a sharpie, a box cutter, a roll of plastic red table cover ( I had some left over from a party), painters tape, spray adhesive and gold wrapping paper (both available at Michaels). 

  1. Make a star template and trace the stars on the cardboard with the sharpie.  

 

 

 

2.    Use the box cutter to cut the stars out.

                                                       

 3.     Unroll the gold wrapping paper and trace around the stars on the back side; cut the stars out of the wrapping paper.

 

 

 

 

4.    Spray the adhesive on the back side of wrapping paper and carefully place on the cardboard star.  Allow to dry.

5.    Print the names of your Hall of Famers on cardstock and cut to fit the stars.  Glue to the stars using the spray adhesive.

6.  On location, unroll the red table cover.  Tape to the floor on the underside with the painters tape.  Place the stars on the “red carpet” and tape in place.  After the celebration, the stars can be easily removed for a keepsake!

#NVW. . .and the Other 51 weeks!

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Does anyone not have a volunteer event on the calendar this month? I’ll wager that many of us have several. If you are hosting one, ever, check out this amazing resource: guide. It’s designed for National Volunteer Week, but, don’t let that stop you from putting to use all the great ideas they crammed inside. I recommend printing it out and making notes in the margin that you can refer back to as needed. It is a real gem…definitely worthy of putting to use the other 51 weeks of the year!

Thank you, HandsOn Network for putting it together for us.