Take 5 With ServiceWorks – Marc Wolensky


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 ServiceWorks

Marc Wolensky - Jersey Cares - ServiceWorks - Success CoachandSkills Trainer 2016Name:

Marc Wolensky

At which ServiceWorks site are you a volunteer?

Rutgers University

How long have you been a ServiceWorks volunteer?

6 months

Why did you decide to volunteer with ServiceWorks? 

I decided to become a volunteer with ServiceWorks because I believe in the vision, and saw how the program could be very helpful to today’s youth. I compared it to when I was a college freshman, and how being a part of something like this could have been beneficial to me. I am a Certified Health & Wellness Coach, and I originally volunteered to be a Success Coach. But then as I learned about the Skills Trainer position, and the need that ServiceWorks had for them, I felt compelled to do more because I knew that my life’s experiences may be able to help others in their growth, development, and outlooks on life and their futures.

In what ways have you seen Service Scholars grow and develop because of ServiceWorks?

Service Scholars have grown in many ways and developed many new skills because of their involvement in ServiceWorks. I believe that everyone was impacted, even Service Scholars who were not always active in the program. Many of them expressed fears in the beginning about public speaking. It was incredible to see how the Service Scholars began to gain more confidence in themselves, and how it impacted their ability to speak in front of the class, interact with peers, as well as community members within their Capstone Project planning. I think the Service Scholars certainly learned new skills, but even more importantly, they grew confidence in themselves for performing certain activities that they were nervous about, and that can impact them in several other areas of their lives, over the course of their entire lives.

What has been your most memorable or inspiring moment as a ServiceWorks volunteer?

Picking only one is hard! But the feeling deep down that I impacted someone, and made a difference in someone’s life feels incredible! I would like to share a few moments. In my initial meeting with two Service Scholars as a group, seeing the tensions go down and comfortability go up in that session was memorable. Hearing them talking on the way out about “how that was cool”, made me feel like I was doing a good service. Another moment was when I was working with my Service Scholars on visions and goal setting, and one in particular went from being skeptical to being involved and loving it. To hear how she constantly thinks about it now, and is setting goals in more effective ways is truly inspiring to me, because I know that I was able to help her, and she is better off because of knowing me. Same goes for my Skills classes. Many of the students became more comfortable as the Modules went on, and it was inspiring to share with them what I know…and I feel that they had mutual respect for what I had to say, and that they knew I was there to help them. I will never forget my time working as a Success Coach or Skills Trainer, and memories and inspiring moments that went along with it will stay with me forever.

How has being a ServiceWorks volunteer impacted you personally?

I have grown personally in many ways since volunteering with ServiceWorks. As a coach, I was able to develop my skills in new ways. As a Skills Trainer, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and do some things I never thought I could (or would) do, such as plan and lead a college level class! It helped grow my own confidence in myself in many areas of my life, and helped me to become a more Self-Compassionate person. Being able to gain the respect of the Service Scholars, and them knowing that I was there for them…and nothing else…truly made me feel like I was making a difference in the world. And that feeling has impacted me in many more ways that words can describe. Also making new personal relationships with my peers, including my VISTA has impacted me in many ways. I am truly grateful for being able to work with such a great partner, where we were able to truly bring out the best in each other.

In three words or less, describe what it’s like to be a ServiceWorks volunteer.

Helpful, Empathetic, Empowering



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