Alison’s experience mentoring two Launch Pad students made a lasting impression on her … and paved the way for a longer commitment
Alison moved to El Paso in the summer of 2016. She and her husband were recently married and had been transferred here by the army from Washington state.
Moving to a new city always provides an opportunity to try out something new and Alison was also looking for a way to meet new friends in El Paso. She had heard about Ciudad Nueva through a work friend while still living in Washington so she contacted Sami after moving here to see if there was a way she could be involved.
“After talking with Sami DiPasquale, I knew right off the bat that I wanted to be involved with the Launch Pad elementary program,” says Alison. “With a background in elementary education, I love being with kids at this age. The first day I was nervous and excited about meeting the students, but was looking forward to seeing the mission of Launch Pad in action.”
Launch Pad proves to be the perfect fit.
Mentoring students is the goal of the Launch Pad program. It is a safe place for the students to build relationships with peers and mentors and learn about God’s love and desire for wholeness in their lives. Right away Alison felt a connection with this goal and knew she had found the right place to use her energy and experience in her new city.
“I was drawn to this program that builds a safe environment for its students,” she says. “I was placed in a room with a fellow mentor who had been volunteering for years, which was a big help! Ms. Blythe became a good friend over that year.”
But the real joy for Alison at Launch Pad, and what really kept her coming back, was when she began mentoring two boys Alex* and Eric*. These friendships became an important connection for her during a time of change in her life.
“After moving to a new state and leaving very dear family and friends, adjusting to a new place was a difficult transition,” says Alison. “Something consistent in my first few months here was showing up on Tuesdays and Thursdays and spending two hours with my two boys.”
Mentoring is a two-way street
As Alison continued working with Alex and Eric, she found that she enjoyed their friendship as much as she enjoyed investing in their young lives. Through all their activities together, they formed a strong bond, even though the boys were a couple of years apart in age. They discovered they could learn and grow together.
“When you start volunteering and creating relationships with students, it’s not a one-way street,” says Alison. “The relationship is two-way. We’re both learning, making new friends, being creative together, having good and bad days, and figuring out together that God loves us so deeply and has created us to be His kind, loving, generous, joy-filled people.”
Together through the good days and the bad
Of course, life isn’t always smooth sailing and fun times. Mentoring students involves lots of fun bonding, but also takes love and patience. Alison found that she could be there for Alex and Eric during the rough times and painful experiences that inevitably come in life.
“One of my boys wears his heart on his sleeve and had been frustrated and bullied at school which resulted in some grumpy, sometimes hurtful behavior towards those around him,” she says. “After a particularly rough few weeks, on the last day before Christmas break, we gathered together as a large group to pray at the end of Launch Pad. As we bowed our heads to pray he tucked his hand into mine and said, ‘Ms. Alison, I’m gonna miss you.’”
Short-term volunteering turns into a longer-term commitment
After almost a year of volunteering, Alison decided she had not only found the place to invest her extra time, but also a calling for the next move in her career. In March 2017, she was hired as Partnership Development Coordinator, and is now co-leading Launch Pad with Tamy Diaz.
Alison wants other volunteers to experience the joys and growth that she has experienced at Ciudad Nueva.
“I’d encourage interested volunteers to think about what they’re passionate about,” says Alison. “What tugs at your heart? Invest time in those endeavors. For me, I’m passionate about youth and students, so volunteering with Ciudad Nueva’s Launch Pad program was a natural fit. Yes, it takes commitment, but the benefit is sharing in and seeing God’s love shine through others.”
Are you ready to get involved?
There are so many ways to be involved at Ciudad Nueva, including working with youth (k-12), helping with our food co-op, leading life skills lessons, helping with the immigration clinic, volunteering at community events, donating supplies, cleaning, and many other ways.
Visit our website for more info or to fill out a volunteer application or call us today at (915) 521-2951 so we can connect you with a place to get involved today!
*names changed to protect the identity of the kids