In the spirit of National Volunteer Week (#NVW2016), join us as we celebrate service. This week we will highlight volunteers who are Success Coaches supporting our ServiceWorks program in Newark. NJ. These inspiring individuals are paving the way and leading our Scholars to the onramps they need to lead a fulfilling life. ServiceWorks is a three-year, nationwide initiative that uses community engagement and volunteer service to help underserved youth and young adults develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers. Jersey Cares is one of ten nationwide host sites for this initiative facilitated through a grant received by Points of Light and funded by Citi Foundation through their “Pathways to Progress, a three-year $50 million initiative to unlock economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 15 cities across the United States.” If you would like to learn more about joining this remarkable team of passionate volunteer leaders, please contact Thomas Dougherty.
Take 5 with a ServiceWorks
Barbara V. Allende
At which ServiceWorks site are you a volunteer?
Rutgers and Youth Build
How long have you been a ServiceWorks volunteer?
Why did you decide to volunteer with ServiceWorks?
I wanted to help first generation college students ease their transition from high school to college and provide guidance to them on navigating their new environment. When I was a college student I remember feeling overwhelmed and wishing I had someone to talk to that could relate.
In what ways have you seen Service Scholars grow and develop because of ServiceWorks?
I have 4 Scholars, and have developed different relationships with them. During our conversations I see how they have adjusted to college and work life and it’s been fun to watch how they blossom into adulthood. There have been growing pains for them all, but going through those pains is how they develop and grow. I’m really proud of all of them.
What has been your most memorable or inspiring moment as a ServiceWorks volunteer?
I had breakfast with one of my scholars, and during our conversation discovered we have many similarities. We were both very young mothers, we both spent time in foster care, we both had similar difficult periods of adversity in our childhood. And during our conversation we bonded. I looked and her and saw myself, and she looked at me and saw what she could become. I’m not a crier, but we both cried during that meeting and we have been close since.
How has being a ServiceWorks volunteer impacted you personally?
I have typically done ‘hands off’ volunteering; volunteering that didn’t require developing close relationships, like fundraising or coordinating groups to collect donations for the homeless, things like that. I am not a person that gets too close to people. I realize now that I have a lot to offer in a mentor relationship and that it’s OK to bond with people, because I can give guidance to someone who is experiencing the same adversities I did in my life. If I can help someone through young adulthood and give them advice to make their life a little easier, then it’s all worth it.
In three words or less, describe what it’s like to be a ServiceWorks volunteer.
Emotional. Hectic. Fulfilling.