Towne Salute: Diana Emerson of Junior League of Annapolis
A volunteer can be defined as someone who takes their personal time to perform a task that exponentially benefits someone or something else. Diana Emerson is a prime example of what volunteering is all about.
Working full time as the Volunteer Services Manager at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), managing approximately 1,100 volunteers, Emerson is all about practicing what you preach by volunteering herself in the community.
While her position with the AAMC can sometimes extend to a seven-day work week, Emerson schedules out the time to not only volunteer for Junior League of Annapolis (JLA), but also with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Anne Arundel County Chapter (NCBW 100) anywhere from 20–35 hours per week.
“I’m pretty detail oriented and organized,” Emerson admits. “Without my calendar, there’s no survival.”
Prior to moving to Anne Arundel County, Emerson was an avid volunteer throughout Baltimore as part of Junior League Baltimore (JLB). When the riots happened, Emerson worked with some of the group’s members to reach out to local stores and get supplies for some of the community centers in those affected areas.
“It was really unique and all the members really came together to really support the cause,” Emerson says.
She also organized a community garden with a group of volunteers that would gather on a regular basis. Whether they knew how to garden or not, Emerson welcomed each volunteer with open arms.
With her upbeat personality and willingness to help others, Emerson was honored as one of the United Way Philanthropic Five Winners in 2015 and was recently nominated for 2017. Each year, United Way seeks out nominations for the award based on the extent of your volunteering. Emerson was selected because of her work throughout Baltimore as a community organizer.
“I was constantly hanging out with community members, helping them sweep their block, plant trees, work on a garden, walk a dog, turn lights on, and so much more,” Emerson admits. “I kind of ran the gamut of Baltimore odd tasks. I believe in knowing your neighbors and making sure your street is looked out for.”
After moving to Anne Arundel County, Emerson wanted to continue her volunteering efforts and came across JLA. One of her favorite events is called Done in a Day where you take part in an activity for a couple of hours.
“We did one at a community center with kids in the kitchen,” Emerson says. “We taught them proper nutrition and how to do something cool. We made waffles, but with peanut butter and jelly, which I never would have thought to do, but the kids loved it.”
With every organization operating differently, Emerson decided to take a back seat when she first joined JLA in order to see where she would be able to help best. The time paid off because Emerson will be the new JLA chair for their annual Jennifer Summers Barrett Memorial Volunteers on the Run 5K.
“I’m really excited about the 5K and seeing what we can do for it,” Emerson admits. “I think it’s a really unique fundraiser because it’s in memory of a past member, so it’s a great way to bring the community out. We had some good folks that came out this past year. I’m really looking forward to filling the shoes of the previous chair and really trying to put my own take on it.”
Continuing her volunteer efforts with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Anne Arundel County Chaper, Emerson works with the committee to spread the word about the organization and what fundraising efforts they can build to support the causes and issues they are putting forward. The NCBW 100 represents the missing voices of women and girls.
“I’m always looking to see how I can make an impact,” Emerson says. “I want to make sure that my volunteers who are working for me at the hospital that they have impactful experiences. If you don’t have an impactful experience, you’re not going to care about what you’re doing and now want to come back.”
With her busy schedule, it almost seems like Emerson has no free time on her hands. You’d be surprised to find out that on her down time, she is a Netflix connoisseur.
“I’m a movie fanatic,” Emerson explains. “I could sit and watch an entire series and that will make me happy.”
While Emerson can be seen as a superb volunteer, for her, it’s all about making a difference and encouraging others to join in her efforts.
“Look for things that are meaningful to you and then seek the need for these organizations,” Emerson explains. “I always encourage people to meet the staff, find out what their mission is and if it’s the best fit for you. For me, that’s how I’ve approached anything I do volunteer wise.”
For more information on Junior League of Annapolis, visit Jlannapolis.org.