Allegany College of Maryland, Frostburg State University and Garrett College are joining forces to launch a volunteer center to serve Allegany and Garrett counties. Its goal is to recruit and manage volunteers using Internet-accessible computer software that connects with participants across a broad and largely rural geographical area.
In addition to meeting current needs, this "virtual volunteer center" seeks to lay ground work needed for expanded services in the future, including through training sessions that abet volunteers and boost their numbers.
Supported through a $20,454 grant from the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism, the collaboration links with community groups to strengthen their efforts, develop long-term strategies and seek funds to increase their effectiveness.
"By amplifying the impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs, you demonstrate that, together, we all can improve the quality of life in our cities and towns," said Gov. Larry Hogan in announcing the grant.
"Our local governments depend on community-based programs like yours to help bridge gaps and, in some cases, supply services that otherwise might not be provided," he said.
ACM, which sought out the governor's grant on behalf of the other institutions, will house a part-time director of the two-county volunteer center.
Jamie Williams, who began in that capacity this month, comes from West Chester University, where she was assistant director of service-learning and volunteer programs. She also is enrolled in the university's doctoral program in public administration.
Williams' prior experience includes serving as alumni liaison with the AmeriCorps A STAR! program within Frostburg State University's Office of Civic Engagement and as FSU's AmeriCorps academic enrichment and volunteer coordinator. She completed a master of education degree in counseling there in 2012.
The governor's office funds also allow purchase of the professional-grade software that supports the activities of the "virtual" center. The web-based will help manage the roster of volunteers and coordinate and record their efforts.
PHOTO CAPTION: A new volunteer center involving Allegany College of Maryland, Frostburg State University and Garrett College will support volunteers and strengthen their efforts in Marylandâ€™s two westernmost counties. Gov. Larry Hogan, who is supporting the collaborative center through his officeâ€™s service and volunteerism initiative, discussed the project during his Western Maryland visit earlier this fall. The governor, second from right, is pictured with, from left, Dr. Qing Yuan, GC director of business, information technology and engineering; Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, FSU president; and Dr. Cynthia Bambara, ACM president.
To further the new volunteer center, the college secured $28,520 in grants from Volunteer Maryland and the Rural Council of Maryland. The funds have allowed ACM to hire a full-time member of AmeriCorps, the federally-supported program that promotes community outreach and service.
ACM is additionally aiding the new center with administrative support from a faculty member, Dr. Diane McMahon. In addition to her teaching duties, she coordinates the college's Service Learning and Civic Engagement unit.
Senior administrative leaders of each higher education institution applauded the governor's support of volunteerism in the state's westernmost counties and welcomed the ability to work together to strengthen the efforts of volunteers in the communities they serve.
"Allegany College of Maryland is pleased to partner with Frostburg State University and Garrett College to provide this resource to support our community," said ACM's president, Dr. Cynthia Bambara. "A goal of ACM is to enhance lives and the community through education and service, and this project will help to address this goal."
"Frostburg State University is committed to being a regional partner in promoting community involvement and volunteerism, and we look forward to collaborating with Allegany College of Maryland and Garrett College in this effort," said Dr. Ron Nowaczyk, FSU president. "By improving the way our region can tap into a rich volunteer resource, everyone can benefit."
With excitement and support for this partnership, Dr. Sarah Garrett, vice president for instruction and student services at Garrett College, stated: "This provides the opportunity to grow the volunteer efforts that our institutions have underway -- encouraging students to take part, with faculty being great advocates through class curricula."
For more about the new volunteer center contact Williams at
; McMahon at 301-784-5116 or
; Garrett at 301-387-3054 or
or Patrick O'Brien, director of civic engagement in FSU's Student and Community Involvement Office, at 301-687-4210 or