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Matt Serves it up at Human Services Programs

Our next VM Story takes us to Carroll County where Matt is serving his VM AmeriCorps year at Human Services Programs.

What are some things that are good to know about you? What are you proud of? What are
some good tidbits to know about you?

I was born and raised in Damascus, Maryland by two parents who worked for the Navy in
varying capacities. After earning an Associates degree in Biblical Studies from the University
of Valley Forge, I transferred to UMBC in order to pursue a bachelors in Political Science. I
have long been passionate about the idea of public service, especially the way that elected
officials are able to effect policy change.

Why are you doing a term of service with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps? What
motivated you to apply and accept this challenge?

I decided to serve with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps because I want to “get things
done” in my community. My peers and I are willing to put the interests of others above
ourselves in order to make Maryland a better place to live for everybody. I would rather do
work that pays less but is meaningful rather than work in a higher paying field that doesn’t
result in the provision of a common good. (Although money is always nice to have. – chuckles. )

What are you hoping to gain from doing this? What skills are you looking to gain? How does
this fit into your long-term goals?

I hope that by serving at Human Services Programs I am able to positively affect the quality of
life of individuals who struggle with poverty. I have a number of friends and family members
who live in poverty, and I have witnessed its effect on their mental and physical health. I
hope that my service results in less people having to suffer in that way.

To learn more about Human Services Programs and volunteer opportunities visit or 

VM Story: Martha – Adkins Arboretum

Our next VM story takes us to the Eastern Shore where Martha was placed at Adkins Arboretum. She has worked as a biology teacher, science curriculum writer, and school administrator in the US, Austria, Belgium, and Ireland. “I am passionate about the environment and have trained as a Master Gardener and Master Naturalist in Frederick, Maryland as well as written several children’s books that promote biodiversity. I have a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland and an MA in Education from the University of Bath. I am a recent transplant to Easton and am happy to be assisting with the volunteer program at Adkins as an AmeriCorps member serving with Volunteer Maryland.”

Why are you doing a term of service with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps? What motivated you to apply and accept this challenge?

“I have long been aware of the important land stewardship work of Adkins Arboretum and it has been on my radar screen as place where I would love to help out in some capacity. When I received a message through the Master Naturalist Listserv that Adkins was looking for an AmeriCorps member to serve as a Volunteer Coordinator, the opportunity to actually follow through with that desire became a real possibility. Through the interview process, I now have a great appreciation for and awareness of the role that AmeriCorps plays through regional organizations such as Volunteer Maryland in making a service year a viable option.”

“What are you hoping to gain from doing this? What skills are you looking to gain? How does this fit into your long-term goals?”

“As my long-term goal is to work for an environmental organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, serving as an AmeriCorps member at Adkins is an ideal vehicle to experience first-hand the workings of an environmental non-profit while meeting the many like-minded individuals and organizations that partner with Adkins. Over the course of the year, I will not only learn the administrative side of volunteer coordination but also the science content and understanding needed to train volunteers to teach the public about land stewardship. While my focus for the year will be on all aspects of volunteer coordination, ultimately my interest lies specifically in the area of environmental education.”

UMB CURE Meets Carrie Murray for Earth Day!

Bridging the UMB CURE scholars and the Carrie Murray Nature Center made for an exciting Earth Day! The CURE scholars met the Nature Center‘s live animals, explored the trails of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park, and picked up litter from a creek that drains into the Chesapeake Bay. The day was filled with curious questions, immersive experiences in nature, and joyous smiles. The volunteer coordinators, Shawdae and James, were proud to use their Volunteer Maryland partnership to create memorable Earth Day experiences for the UMB CURE scholars. Bringing communities together and getting things done is what we’re all about here at Volunteer Maryland!

An Afternoon with the Leading Voices of National Service

Upon receiving an email invitation to George Washington University in D.C. to listen to the CNCS CEO and the Peace Corps director, AND the acting VISTA director, I immediately confirmed I had no urgent business on April 3, 2019. In addition to my AmeriCorps service in VM29 and my current employment with Volunteer Maryland, I am also a VISTA alum by way of Strong City Baltimore and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mali ’02-’04), so I felt like they had tailored this event to me personally. I cleared my calendar and when the day came, I hopped a MARC train for our nation’s capital at the height of sakura season.

When I arrived, I saw a lot of familiarity: Recruitment booths, AmeriCorps logos, VISTA swag, Peace Corps branding, a smattering of acquaintances from all three of my National Service affiliations; but also the look of people who have seen beyond their world, who have experienced meaningful successes as well as meaningful failures and have resolved to eschew meaningless successes and failures. Maybe it was all in my head, but it seemed palpable in the moment.

I learned that the head of VISTA, Eileen Conoboy, served in Peace Corps Mali as well, and that she had worked in Peace Corps a long time before switching over to AmeriCorps. I learned that Barbara Stewart, running the CNCS, and Jody Olson in charge of Peace Corps have been having conversations about the similarity of their programs and are exploring avenues for closer association between domestic national service under CNCS and service abroad in Peace Corps. Eventually these speakers gave way to a panel of distinguished alumni who shared their experiences and how their service shaped and continues to shape their success. Scattered between the featured speakers were a heartfelt welcome from host Caroline Laguerre-Brown on behalf of GWU and videos prepared by people currently serving. The audience was even attended to by a team of active AmeriCorps NCCC members.

As the event closed out, any Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in the audience were asked to stand. I stood. Then, AmeriCorps alumni; I stood again. And surprisingly, we were asked to stand yet again if we were both. (I’m skipping over the sole Senior Corps alum who stood to a wild ovation.) The dozen or so of us exchanged quizzical glances as we were called to the stage, where we were honored to wear pins bestowed on us by each organization and to stand for a picture signifying the closeness and compatibility between the two service opportunities.
A little time spent mingling in the aftermath, and before I knew it I was headed back home to Baltimore on a standing room only MARC train. I know Peace Corps has changed quite a bit since I closed my service some fifteen years ago and I know it had changed a lot since its inception even then; similarly I know AmeriCorps today is different from what it was in its infancy in the 1990s when VM was a pilot program. But I know from my afternoon in Washington that the past, present, and future of these programs—being in good hands–will continue to be intertwined going forward.

Written by Thomas Darnell, Volunteer Maryland Operations Coordinator

#ServiceCelebration #MadeInAmeriCorps #NationalServiceWorks #GoVolunteer

Reflection: Tiana Volunteers at the Samaritan Women

My passion for volunteering and past experiences in life left me with feeling more than happy to volunteer at the Samaritan Women on March 17th. I decided to connect with Jasmyne Cummings another Volunteer Coordinator through Volunteer Maryland. I knew that out of all of the sites that were available to provide support, the Samaritan Women would be an awesome fit for me way before signing up to volunteer with Jasmyne.
I didn’t necessarily know what I’d do, or when I would have availability but during one of our usual VM cohort meetings it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I had gotten so many compliments on my makeup that day, and always have aspired to be a mortuary makeup artist. Suddenly a thought formed in my mind that said, why not teach the ladies how tobeat their faces’ (do their makeup). I quickly rushed over to Jasmyne and discussed my ideas with her and we both were super excited to get this set up.
Jasmyne did an amazing job with providing me with all of the clients skin tones, preferences, and a headcount prior to my scheduled date. I was able to purchase makeup products for each young lady present. I demonstrated the importance of applying makeup to fit a professional setting. I was able to also chat with the ladies about my journey with AmeriCorps and self discovery, and I could tell that they truly appreciated my time. I even stayed longer than I had anticipated for dinner!
Overall, I am super grateful for the opportunity to be able to connect with like minded people who have the same passion to make a change. Volunteer Maryland has provided me with the key tools needed to directly and indirectly support those in need. I walked away from this experience with a warm heart, the satisfaction of seeing smiling faces, and a full tummy which is always amazing. Shout out to VM class 31 for getting things done! Thanks for reading.

Peer Leader Maggie – VM Story

This year Volunteer Maryland will be hosting the class of #VM30! Today help me in introducing our second peer leader Maggie Straub!

“I served with Volunteer Maryland last year at Crossroads Community, Inc. where I recruited and managed volunteers to work one-on-one with individuals who have behavioral health needs.

I continued my service with AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland this year as a Peer Leader because I feel a deep sense of dedication to volunteer service and the community around me. I wanted to take the next step as a Peer Leader to serve in a new capacity by mentoring fellow AmeriCorps members in this program.

It is my hope to use my past experience with Volunteer Maryland to motivate other AmeriCorps Members throughout the cohort to reach their full potential while taking advantage of as many professional development opportunities they can throughout the year.

Fun fact, I spent two months living in Dublin, Ireland where I interned at a non-profit focused on providing services to at-risk youth, to include after-school clubs and resume workshops.”

We’re so excited to have Maggie serve with the support team this year! Subscribe to our blog to continue getting updates on our rad upcoming service year!

#VolunteerMD #serveMaryland #AmeriCorps