As they always say, time flies when you are having a good time. From the very beginning of being welcomed to the Hero team, I have enjoyed myself tremendously. It is so bittersweet to think about my time ending here, but before I go, I want to take a walk down memory lane.
From the very beginning, when I applied for the job, I knew what to expect, but after starting I guess I really didn’t. I had done all my research on Hero and I read over the responsibilities and duties at least 50 times, but I wasn’t prepared for what I would truly experience.
My first day at Hero was so exciting but also so overwhelming. I realized I knew little to nothing about blood cancer. So to get the full experience, I spent the first week educating myself on blood cancer, blood cancer diseases, and everything I could learn about the impact Hero truly made. Educating myself started to make me feel a lot more comfortable with understanding the individuals I would be closely working with.
Starting this position during the Covid-19 Pandemic was a struggle. I had a tough time realizing my year would look a lot different than the previous volunteer coordinators. There wouldn’t be any fun events or normal in-person drives, everything would be virtual. It was a blessing because I got to work from the comfort of my home, but I definitely experienced a small case of FOMO (fear of missing out). While I patiently waited for more drives to arrive, I worked on content for the volunteer program, furthering our Color the Registry program, a couture Christmas tree contest, and Winter Box of Joy festivities.
Fast forward some time and I am preparing for my first bone marrow registry drive which was in honor of Kristy Cooper. That experience was so heartwarming. Seeing all those people come out, and helping them sign up on the registry, and seeing volunteers in action was truly a memory that will be etched in my heart forever. It had felt so good to be in action so I thought, but our drives quickly came to a cease as Covid-19 quickly spiked.
During the spike, we had a few smaller drives, but they weren’t nearly as successful. We had hosted a drive at St. Francis of Assisi and instead of people coming out to get swabbed, we had a session with WJZ News to explain how hard it was to get donors on the registry during that time.
There were times that I felt I wasn’t doing anything. Times where I became discouraged and felt that I could have been doing more. Whenever I felt like this, it was never hard to pull myself back together. I had so much inspiration around me. I would think about individuals who we hosted drives in honor of or members on the board that are still here today who impacted me. They were my push to stay motivated and to keep going.
After 11 months with Hero, I recruited a total of 34 volunteers, hosted several drives, added new material and structure for the volunteer program, launched restaurants and registry, and most importantly added lifesavers to the National Bone Marrow Registry!
I owe a huge thank you to the staff at Hero. It was a pleasure getting to work with Mary Kaye, Stephanie, and a little later down the line, Tyler and Elena. It was always a good time in the office and I’ll forever cherish our laughs and giggles. I’ll miss all of your beautiful faces and crazy office stories!
I also want to thank the volunteers. Although I didn’t have the chance to meet all of them, it was always a good time with the old and new volunteers that I did meet. They truly inspired me with their dedication to the cause and their motivation. Together, we worked to get many individuals signed up on the registry.
Also, thank you to Volunteer Maryland and my VM 33 cohort for always being an extra support system and for working so hard despite everything that had happened during our service year, yes I’m talking about Covid. It was rough for all of us but we were always there for each other.
As far as my next plans go, I will be taking another AmeriCorps position with the Literacy Lab as a 2021-2022 K-3 Literacy Tutor! I am looking forward to serving in the classroom setting and working closely with the little ones to strengthen their literacy skills! After my next service year, I’ll be ready to head back to school to finish my degree in Early Childhood and Special Education.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served with Hero and AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland. I will forever be grateful for the experience, memories, and friendships created. Thank you and on to the next chapter!