Hello UMBC community and Retriever Essentials Partners,
My name is Rebecca Ferguson and I am the third and final CCMA AmeriCorps UMBC VISTA for Retriever Essentials. I am so excited to introduce myself as the program’s newest team member! I will be working as the Program Coordinator and will be responsible for administrative, marketing, and management processes that will ultimately build the capacity of the program to grow sustainably beyond my year of service.
I first became a part of the UMBC community as an undergrad in 2017, and recently graduated with a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Systems in December 2019. While a student, I engaged with the community as an SGA Environmental Branch leader and as a board member of The Garden club. My passion for sustainable food security led me to begin training as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia after graduation, however, I was shortly evacuated due to Covid-19 concerns. This shift in my plans has now become an opportunity to serve my community a little closer to home. As a previous student who greatly benefited from the necessary work that Retriever Essentials does, I am honored and excited to be serving the UMBC community in the capacity of this Americorps position.
I also want to thank you, the entire UMBC community, for your unwavering support for the organization, especially during these challenging times. Due to the pandemic, eliminating food insecurity presents further challenges and requires us to re-assess the ways in which we can build a closer community while remaining distant. Even through all the changes we are experiencing, the health of our community has always been essential. My hope is that my service year will culminate in Retriever Essentials’ increased ability to provide a variety of health-related resources, especially local, healthy, fresh food and “on-going support networks, in order to enhance students’ academic success and retention”.
Retriever Essentials could not have transformed from one person handing out groceries from the trunk of her car to the pillar of the community, as it stands today, without extensive community support and collaborative efforts. As the last VISTA volunteer, I am seeking to “work myself out of a job” so they say. It is through collaborations and lasting partnerships that this absolutely essential program will continue to thrive. I look forward to building upon the previous VISTA volunteers’ work and connecting with each of you in the near future to discuss how we can support one another. Please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!