March/ April 2011     

The Peace Corps Turns 50
Spotlight on: Volunteer Center Serving Howard County
Insights: Program Evaluation


trees were planted through the Marylanders Plant Trees program.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by volunteering at an environmental project.


Out of the Ordinary Volunteer Opportunities 

Plane Excitement

Do you have an interest in aviation and space history in Maryland? Consider volunteering at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum in Middle River, MD. Explore availabilty by emailing the museum.


Animal Magnetism

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has a wide variety of opportunities to fit with volunteer interests. Learn more here.

Artistic License

The Williamsport Retirement Village in Williamsport, MD is seeking volunteers with an interest in art to lead classes for residents. Contact Angie Brambley at 301-223-7971 ext. 147 for more details.


Horsing Around

Talbot Special Riders needs volunteers for a 10 week session on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am-noon and Tuesdays  from 3-5 pm.

No experience with horses or challenged individuals is needed. Training is provided. Contact Nancy Radosta, 410-604-2290 to learn about this opportunity in Easton, MD.

Chris Gleason-Smuck  
We sat down with Chris from the Maryland Conservation Corps. Check out the video on our Service and Volunteerism playlist!

New Volunteer Certificate Request Process!

The GOSV is providing a new online form for volunteer managers to request volunteer certificates from our office. It's quick, easy, and will ensure that no request falls through the cracks.


Learn more here.

Are you following the GOSV on Twitter?

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Happy Spring!


With sunnier days to come and flowers in bloom, the GOSV is a happy place to be. We're excited to have received over 150 nominations for the Governor's Service Awards and are having a great time meeting with prospective AmeriCorps programs at our 2011 Formula Funding training webinars


If you haven't looked at our Publications page on our website lately, we encourage you to stop by to check out archived newsletters from our office as well as the recently released 2010 GOSV Annual Report.


As a reminder, the GOSV is moving many of its operations online. All of our latest news is posted on www.GOSV.maryland.gov. When you browse our site let us know if you are having a tough time finding information you need or if you really like something. The website is the go-to place for GOSV news and we want to make sure it's serving you well.


Thanks for reading,


The Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism


P.S. Don't forget to mark your calendar for the 2011 Volunteer Conference on May 12 at the Greenbelt Marriott. More details will be posted on our site in early April.

Happy Birthday to the Peace Corps!Peace Corps

"As a Peace Corps volunteer, I collaborated with members of a local organization to promote good public health techniques and organic family gardening in four villages. My time in Guatemala inspired me to return home and not only share my experience abroad, but also to engage in my own community; AmeriCorps has been an excellent way to accomplish this." - Tamara Neuhaus, current Volunteer Maryland AmeriCorps member


On March 1, 2011, the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th year of responding to challenges around the globe. What began as a call to action to the students of University of Michigan in the fall of 1960 has now inspired 5,400 Marylanders and 200,000 Americans in total to serve in 139 counties. 


Its purpose was simple: promote world peace and friendship. In August 1961, when the first Peace Corps Volunteers departed for Ghana and what is now Tanzania, the program was a pilot project that had enticed 5,000 applicants to take an exam for admission. Less than a month later, Congress formally authorized the Corps and charged it to "help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower, particularly in meeting the basic needs of those living in the poorest areas of such countries, and to help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the peoples served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people." These goals continue to remain the driving force for the Corps.


"I worked in a border town on economic development and community health initiatives.  On returning home, I moved to Baltimore where I became an AmeriCorps VISTA. I used skills I acquired  to design and implement business and outreach strategies for Real Food Farm's efforts to create healthier neighborhoods in northeast Baltimore." -Erin Lewis, Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda '07-'09

In 1961, President Kennedy stated, "The wisdom of this idea is that someday we'll bring it home to America." Three years later, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), a National Teacher Corps, and the Job Corps were created. Over the next 20 years, new service programs such as Foster Grandparents and service-learning in schools, among others, began to grow and evolve. In 1993, Kennedy's statement became a full reality when the National and Community Service Trust Act created AmeriCorps, now known as the "domestic Peace Corps."


"My Peace Corps service played a critical part of shaping my career, and gave me the skills, values, and experience I needed to be successful.  As a volunteer in Mali ('98-'00) my work organizing a cooperative of chicken farmers in a rural village was the impetus for me to become a community organizer, working to assist vulnerable communities to pool their existing resources to pursue positive social and economic change to improve their life conditions." - Liz Alex, Lead Organizer, CASA de Maryland 


The Peace Corps Volunteers have tackled issues such as AIDS education, environmental preservation, and emerging technologies. About 37 percent of volunteers serve in Africa, 24 percent in Latin America and 21 percent in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The majority of volunteers, 90 percent, have at least an undergraduate degree and while 7 percent are over 50, the average age of volunteers is 28.
Spotlight on: Volunteer Center Serving Howard County

This fall, the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County (VCSHC) will celebrate its tenth year of recruiting potential volunteers and referring them to local non-profit and governmental agencies in order to improve the quality of life for all people in Howard County.


The VCSHC partners with the HandsOn Network to offer an online search feature for volunteer opportunities as well as a place for local agencies to post their opportunities. Potential volunteers can easily register or navigate an online calendar to find service opportunities to fit nearly any schedule.


It offers orientations and trainings to those interested in volunteering during all phases of disaster, as well as to local agencies interested in utilizing disaster volunteers.  Mickey Gomez, Executive Director of the VCSHC, served as chair of Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) for three terms and currently chairs the National VOAD Volunteer Management Committee.

 10 years

The Center recently released an update for teens and this summer, the VCSHC will once again offer Camp Make a Difference to local youth in grades 6-9.  A pilot of their new Volunteer Leaders program will launch later this year.


For more information, visit www.volunteerhoward.org.

Insights for Grantseekers: Program Evaluation


A hallmark of program excellence is a comprehensive and consistent plan for assessing and improving the program's impact. As grant-makers, GOSV staff members have the opportunity to review many evaluation plans at the start of a grant period, and then work with program staff as they implement their activities during the program year. 


What is evaluation?


Program evaluation is a process of ongoing programmatic learning and development. Evaluation as learning includes asking good questions to get at a service program's effectiveness; gathering information that empowers staff to take appropriate action; and sharing the information to make decisions that move the program to new levels of excellence.


Program evaluation systems should connect to and flow from the agency's overall evaluation and management systems. Evaluation goals, tools, and systems should foster a sense of learning and renewal for the program, not recrimination and blame. Program evaluation should be ongoing, and agency staff should incorporate reporting on the results of program evaluations in all marketing and communication activities.


What should be evaluated?


The best program evaluation plan will combine all four of these levels.


1) Output Statistics


Count the discrete data that shows program activities. This data includes, but is not limited to:

  • number of volunteers involved in your program,
  • number of clients served,
  • number of workshops given, trees planted, meals delivered, etc., and
  • dollar value of donated volunteer time.

This level is important to show activity - but it's not the end of the evaluation road.


2) Customer Feedback


The next level of evaluation is to seek input from the people served by your program (called customers or clients). Ask your customers to tell you what they think about the services you provide and ask them to suggest improvements.  This is a measure of customer satisfaction. 


This level will tell you what people think about what you're doing; and you can obtain excellent recommendations for improving your services.


3) Standards-Based Comparison


Compare the operation of the program to objective management standards created by an outside body. Examples of outside bodies include the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association. Find standards for your field - no matter what it is - and assess how well you match up to those standards.


This level of evaluation tells you how well you do when compared to your peers and/or the leaders in your field.


4) Outcome-Based Evaluation


Measuring the discrete planned change in the recipients of program services, this evaluation will provide the best way to determine whether your program accomplished its mission. If you're tutoring students, measure how much their skills improved as a result of your program. 


This final and most important level of evaluation will answer the question that keeps us all up at night: what difference are we making in the lives of the people we serve?


Again, the strongest evaluation plans - and most effective agencies - routinely gather information in all of these different areas, analyze and apply this information directly and quickly in their current programming, and then share what they learn with their clients, partners, and funders. 


Where can I find more information?


The information in this article was heavily influenced by Volunteer Management: Mobilizing all the Resources of the Community by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch. 


In addition, the National Service Resource Center provides extensive evaluation planning and implementation tools. These materials are relevant for all organizations and are available at no cost at www.nationalserviceresources.org.