A program that struggled through the pandemic is recruiting young Marylanders who are looking to give back to their communities. Applications for Volunteer Maryland are now open.
“Volunteer Maryland is an AmeriCorps program housed in the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. And we partner with organizations throughout Maryland to place AmeriCorps members, who we’re recruiting today, in organizations to improve the capacity of their programs and to serve more people in Maryland who are in need,” Director of Volunteer Maryland Sharon Lewis said.
“The pandemic impacted us all, and it really impacted communities that already needed help the most. So it’s really critical for folks to apply to become AmeriCorps members and serve needs in their communities.”
Volunteer Maryland partners with local nonprofits, government agencies and schools to address their critical needs. They take all volunteers’ interests and locations into account when assigning opportunities.
The group works with organizations, such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Boys and Girls Clubs and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
“Volunteers will be out in the community serving at organizations that are providing youth programming and development, that are providing meals and other services to folks experiencing homelessness,” Lewis said. “They might be providing environmental education or doing environmental activities like planting native plants or pulling invasive species to improve the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”
Volunteers will receive two weeks of pre-service training on volunteer coordination and best practices, and Lewis said no experience is required.
“You just need to be 17 years old, passionate about getting back to your community, and have a high school diploma.”
AmeriCorps members receive a modest living allowance for during their stint and receive a Segal Education Award, which can be used to fund education or go toward student loan debt.
And Lewis said it is a great resume builder.
“It’s a great way to gain new experiences in a new field or area you’re interested in, and then to use that experience for whatever is next for you.”
The 11-month commitment begins Sept. 15 and concludes on Aug. 2, 2022.
Last year, volunteers contributed 2,790 hours and assisted 829 people, including 300 children, at 18 different organizations.