VM25 Gets Started with Kelly and Kerry!

Well, we are just about to start Pre-Service Training for VM25 and we’re pretty excited.  For the last week, we’ve had a preview of the class as we’ve gotten to know our new Peer Leaders.  They’ve already shown themselves to be professional and flexible as they have started to learn their roles while working hard to prepare for the new class.  Today, they’ll start making phone calls to the soon-to-be Volunteer Maryland Coordinators; it’s always nice to have a friendly face – or at least voice – when we all get together for the first time.

You’ll begin to hear from them soon; they’re working on their introductory blog posts this week.  In the meantime, here’s a little bit about our first two AmeriCorps members of VM25!

Kelly MacBride-Gill previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County from 2010 to 2011.  A recent transplant to Baltimore, Kelly spends her free time gardening, cooking, and dog-watching.  Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Maryland, where she is also a proud alum of Alpha Phi Omega.

 Kerry Ose served as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator in VM Class 24 at Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.  She has worked as a writer and college teacher, and, in, recent years, has been involved in grassroots efforts to support and improve public education. Kerry holds a PhD in English, watches a lot of Netflix, and is an avid swim parent.

There’s a whole lot to come this year – service, teamwork, celebration, learning, fun, and more.  Stay tuned!

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Welcome to Class 24!

Today’s the day!  Today we start our twenty-fourth class; it’s the first day for our new Peer Leaders, Barb Cooke and Joyell Johnson.

What’s a Peer Leader?  That’s the new title for Regional Coordinator.  Peer Leaders are second year AmeriCorps members who provide frontline support to the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators at their Service Sites as well as work with VM staff to meet program objectives.

Barb and Joyell both served with VM last year as VM Coordinators; they even each submitted a guest blog post during the service year.  I’m really glad to have them back as Peer Leaders for this class.  You’ll get to know them as they blog over the next 11 months.  For now, here’s a sneak preview.

Barb served as a VMC with Partners In Care (PIC), where she worked with the Wisdom Works Team—a group of 21 Partners In Care volunteers—to survey the frailer members of the PIC community and to re-educate inactive members about the services PIC offers.  In addition, Barb increased the social media presence of Partners In Care by creating Facebook and Twitter accounts that help spread the word about PIC services and volunteer efforts that serve close to 2,400 individuals.

Barb began preparing for service and leadership early in life, leading a campaign to modify the school dress code to permit girls to wear pants to her grade school.  She has a Master of Arts degree in Human Development and has worked as a Unit Coordinator in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents and as a Community Liaison and Family Counselor in other community-based programs.

To read Barb’s guest post with some reflections on her VMC year, click here.

Joyell served as a VMC with the Banneker-Douglass Museum, where she recruited 40 volunteers to serve as program assistants, docents, and library assistants at the Museum.  In addition, Joyell created and ran a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event which brought in 33 new volunteers and 125 clients.  Joyell also created and revised numerous documents for the Museum, including a volunteer handbook and a folder containing all documents needed to incorporate new volunteers.

Joyell received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from Washington College, where she also minored in Black Studies and was active in the Student Government Association and Residential Life.  Joyell has mentored young girls in Kent County, been a camp counselor, and participated in domestic violence awareness events such as “The Vagina Monologues” and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

To read Joyell’s guest post about her MLK Day event click here.

Two weeks from today, we’ll start our Pre-Service Training for all of Class 24, so stay tuned!  There’s plenty more to come this year!

From left to right: Joyell, Barb, and VM23 classmates Dorsey, Krista, Kathy, Natalie, and Amanda

Collaborating and Listening is Also Part of My Job.

My second year with Volunteer Maryland started a lot differently than my first year.  Rather than being intimidated and unsure, I was excited for my second year.  I was going to be working with people who inspired me to push harder and go farther than I would have if I hadn’t worked with them, and I was going to be working with two friends I had made during my first year with Volunteer Maryland.  I thought that I had a good idea about what I would be doing over the course of my second year.  It turns out that I had no idea what my job was actually going to involve.  Even now, almost half-way through my year, I’m amazed by how dynamic my job is.

I'll solve itIt’s not that my job doesn’t have any structure, far from it in fact.  A lot of the dynamics come from the nature of my position.  I’m part of a team of AmeriCorps members who are out in the field.  For them, I’m a quartermaster – I get to make sure the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators have all of the resources and tools that they’ll need to do their jobs.  I’m a mechanic – helping to fix things when they break and greasing a lot of wheels.  I’m Vanilla Ice – if you’ve got a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.  I’m an intelligence agent – spending time finding out things that the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators and Volunteer Maryland staff need to know in order to be able to better do their jobs.  Overall, I’m the guy behind the guy behind the guy that works behind the scenes to make things run smoothly.

I’m part of the Volunteer Maryland support team.  I plan meetings for some of Volunteer Maryland’s AmeriCorps members so they can get together outside of the regular training days – I’m working on planning a service project for the members in my region now.  I go on site visits with Volunteer Maryland staff to make sure that our members and sites are working well together.  I’m involved in training days for our members, and sometimes people even remember what I say, which makes me feel good about the time that I put into preparing to speak in front of people.  We’re ramping up our recruitment and outreach right now, and I’m going to be involved in that, too.

I’m also allowed to design my own projects, so I’m part of a team of people who are trying to show Baltimore nonprofits some low-cost ways of sharing information and communicating with the people they serve.  If I’m lucky, the project will expand to the state of Maryland, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to go to New York at the end of June to talk to nonprofit leaders from across the nation about how I, and a group of pretty amazing people, did it.

I’ve never really understood why people use the phrase, “I’m just a cog in a machine,” in a negative way.  Have you ever taken a cog out of a machine and had it still work like it ought to?  That piece that’s “just” a cog is fairly important, otherwise it wouldn’t be there.  It’s part of being on a team – you and those other cogs need to work together or else things wouldn’t happen.