Volunteer Spotlight: Mena
Giving Back to Youth in Her Community
Every day, folks generously give their time and talents to support CommonBond residents and add to the vibrancy of our communities.
We offer many ways to volunteer, including Study Buddies, which matches adults with an elementary school student to help strengthen their literacy skills, while building a positive and lasting relationship. The student and their Study Buddy start with a check-in, read a book together, work through discussion questions, and engage in a social-emotional activity.
Mena, a sophomore college student at Macalester, found Study Buddies through a program called Lives of Commitment in 2021. Mena enjoyed being at CommonBond so much her first year that she decided to come back for another one, continuing to work with the same student! Mena is working with a fourth-grade student at Seward Tower West, and she hopes to continue volunteering in Study Buddies for as long as she can.
Growing up, Mena loved hanging out with her young cousins and knew she enjoyed working with children. As a young person entering college, Mena was excited to volunteer with youth and give them an opportunity to connect with somebody they could relate to. Being East African and the daughter of immigrants, she welcomed the opportunity to work within a community in which she shared the identities of many students in the program. “It felt like I was giving back to my community.”
This shared identity, time to learn about each other, and the return to in-person sessions, has helped Mena and her Study Buddy grow their relationship over time.
“It’s been such a rewarding experience because I’ve gotten to see her grow so much. I get excited to come each week to see her.” Mena hopes to have a positive impact on her Study Buddy’s life. “She is very intrigued about my campus and dorm life, so I hope I am a role model in that sense also. She’s able to see someone who looks like her going to college and enjoying newfound opportunities and freedom.”
Not only does Mena hope to impact her Study Buddy, but she also feels a change in her own life. “It’s a very mutual relationship. I feel like I’ve grown a lot through meeting with her as well. It’s been a rewarding and meaningful experience.”
At CommonBond, our youth programs are a vibrant and vital part of our communities, and Mena is grateful to be able to volunteer in this space. “Our youth are our future. Investing in our youth is what’s going to make the world such a better place.”
Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities at CommonBond!