When I was with Volunteer Maryland, part of my service hours could be spent doing direct service volunteering in the community. I got a lot of information from people about the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Baltimore because a lot of people knew how much I liked volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. I tried signing up, but never got any information back about when to show up. I had written the whole thing off, but someone that I served with convinced me to just show up because they really needed people to help with the build.
I’m glad she convinced me to go, because it was a great experience. Something even better, though, was getting to sit down and watch the show with my parents and tell them about the work that I got to do on the site. It was the first time that they got to see concrete results from something that I did during my service years. I got to talk to them about the volunteers I got to meet and work with, and all of the different reasons people came together to build the home. We talked about what the home meant for the girls that were living there, and what it meant for the people who worked on the site. I think they finally started to understand what I did with the last two years of my life, and why I chose to do it.
I’ve got to admit, I got a little misty during the show. It was the first time I’ve ever seen the reaction of the people who are going to use a home I helped to build. When I volunteered to help build a playground, I went to the grand opening but just hung out with the people I’d worked with. When the Habitat homes I’d worked on were being dedicated, I never went. It was great seeing everyone’s reaction and knowing that I helped to make them that happy, even if my part was only a small part of the overall project.
I’ve never really thought of myself as a leader. I worked hard at what I did, whether it was school or my job or volunteering. I really just wanted to (and still want to) be good at what I do.
I’ve only recently started to realize that people are seeking me out because I am pretty good at what I do. My last year at Volunteer Maryland started to drive it home for me. From working with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, to bringing people together to talk to nonprofit leaders about social media, to going to New York to talk about how nonprofits can use blogs for outreach. All of it happened because people recognized that I knew what I was talking about, or that I was willing to learn what they had to teach me and share what I’d learned with other people.
It’s happening again, too. Last Friday I volunteered with Habitat of Greater Indianapolis, and the crew leader gave me a person and a task and just let me do it. I took a bit longer to do it than I needed, but I got to teach the person I was working with how to do a bunch of different things on their own. The crew leader came up to me at the end of the day and thanked me for my work, and for showing other people how to do things. They wished I could stay on longer than I could-serving here is only temporary until I nail down a job.
I might be getting another really big recognition that I’m good at what I do. I can’t say much about it right now, but I’m really excited about it. If it pans out, I’ll write about it on Friday.
As for now, I’m on a Habitat build today at a new site. Here’s hoping we’re framing!
During my second service year, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. It was an all around great experience; I got to learn a lot of new things, I felt like I was part of their team, and got to see the impact of the work that I was doing.
I had to move to a suburb of Indianapolis, though, so I got in touch with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis and last Friday got back to swinging a hammer. Once again, it was a really great experience. I got to meet some new people and knock the rust off of my framing hammer. I’m going to sign up for a few more builds this month, and hopefully stay relatively injury free.
A month ago, I wrote an entry on the Volunteer Maryland blog about my year as a Regional Coordinator for Volunteer Maryland; my second year with Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps. After a month of being a Retired 2nd Lieutenant in the Army of Do-Gooders, I’ve missed writing and telling stories.
No one has said that I need to stop writing though. What’s an enterprising AmeriCorps Alums to do but write about life after AmeriCorps. Come along on my post-service adventure.