Volunteers are an important component of almost every program that exists at Ciudad Nueva. Throughout our youth after-school programs, our food co-op, our family programs, and our immigration clinic, volunteers help us fulfill our mission of empowerment and transformation in the Rio Grande neighborhood.
In case you missed it, we recently published an article with many of our current volunteer needs for the fall. You can read it here.
The volunteers that work with us not only fill a need, they also become part of our community. They come to learn and grow themselves, and you will find a beautiful diversity of ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
High school students volunteer for growth
Our high school students are encouraged to become volunteers as part of their own leadership and personal development in our programs. After getting to know them, we help them determine what kind of volunteering they would enjoy and where they might be able to contribute with their giftsand strengths. You can read a previous post about why we are passionate about youth development here.
Evelyn, one of our high school students, has been volunteering with Launch Pad for the last two years. She has been involved in our programs since she started Launch Pad herself in fifth grade. This last year she was a sophomore in high school and wanted to help with the younger kids because of the impact the leaders had had on her life.
“I wanted to volunteer because my younger brothers were in Launch Pad, and I knew some of the mentors,” says Evelyn. “Having a relationship with the kids and other mentors motivated me. I wanted to be working with the kids and with the mentors who mentored me when I was little.”
Evelyn wants to be a teacher someday so working with the younger kids also supports her long-term goals.
“Being around the kids helps me understand the students and their behavior,” she says. “Volunteering has helped with my communication skills, and interacting with people at school like with teachers and counselors. It has also helped me to be more responsible and caring.”
Evelyn’s favorite part of volunteering was working with Ms. Margaret who had been her own mentor in Launch Pad. Now she is learning from Ms. Margaret in a new capacity as her assistant, helping the students with homework and other activities.
Evelyn has a message to those considering volunteering in one of the programs this year: “Go for it. This is an experience that could change your life, make you more responsible, kind, and caring, and help out with your communication skills.”
Adult volunteers find fulfillment and joy in hanging out with the students
One of our newer volunteers, Gary, had known about Ciudad Nueva for many years but decided this last year to invest time in the Launch Pad program. He is recently retired from his orthodontic practice, and he and his wife decided to use their time and resources to support programs they believe in.
“You have no more valuable asset to give others than your time,” says Gary. “That is the ultimate volunteerism. All the volunteers at Ciudad Nueva have unique talents and skills to offer, and it was a lot of fun working with them. The volunteers actually learn a lot about each other as well.”
Of course the best part was working with the kids and seeing them grow through the year.
“Kids keep you on your toes and keep you young at heart,” he says. “Looking at the world through their eyes and through their situations at home helped me understand some of their challenges. I loved seeing them open up as time went on.”
Seeing the kids’ excitement as they accomplished a goal like climbing the rock wall or helping them through a tough homework problem were the daily joys that kept him coming back. And he said that program directors Tamy and Alison had everything organized and structured, which made it easy to integrate as a volunteer.
Gary’s challenge to all of us is a great reminder to leave the world a better place than you found it.
“I have always thought about what I want to feel like when my life is over,” he says. “I want to have had a beneficial impact on someone’s life and on my community. One of the ways to do that is by giving your time, your greatest resource. You are really being unselfish, and you leave the world in a better condition than you found it.”
Are you ready dive in as a new volunteer this year? You truly will gain so much by doing it — and will make a difference in your community at well. Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us here. We look forward to getting to know you!