John Doyle (City Island Volunteer & Activist)
June 30, 2016

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John Doyle, winner of the 2016 Bronx Volunteer of the Year Award for Neighborhood impact, has strong ties to his community in City Island, the Bronx, and a long history of community involvement through activism and volunteering. Community involvement takes many forms for John, including participating in the City Island Civic Association and volunteering on the board of the 45th precinct council. He feels his civic activities have brought him close to other caring individuals who are passionate about various causes, whether it be social justice or community preservation. “The very important thing to get across to people is one person can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.”

During his time organizing the community, he was able to help give City Island and its residents a voice and a way to advocate for themselves. “I’ve always found that if someone’s dedicated to doing something for the common good, looking beyond themselves, being analytical about the problems before them, being logical about what they can achieve- that’s someone you should get to know; And thankfully there are many people on City Island who are selfless people, people who give back.”

Violynn (Reading Partners Volunteer)
April 12, 2016

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Violynn, currently a Reading Partners literacy tutor, has made volunteering and service staples in her life from the time she was very young. Her first introduction to service happened as a result of values she formed through involvement with her church and faith based programs, and she lived out those values by giving back through a wide variety of acts of service throughout her life. Through a lifetime of service, she has given back to youth as a mentor, a tutor and educator. “It provided an outlet for me. Which I think is something that you give, but you also get back.”

She feels that volunteering has made her a stronger, more well-rounded person, and helped her realize and develop her innate leadership potential.Currently, Violynn is giving back by tutoring children who are behind grade level improve their literacy skills. She’s enjoyed helping her students grow both academically and personally as they learn and gain more skill in confidence with their reading. “When I go there, and you see the children’s smiling faces, and everyone is just like ‘Oh hi! How are you? Let’s work with the words now!’; When you have that sort of interaction, it really brightens your day and really makes you feel good.”

Want to learn more about Reading Partners? Click Here!

Isaac (Big Brothers Big Sister of NYC Volunteer)
February 24, 2016

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Isaac was drawn to Big Brothers Big Sisters because of how deeply the Littles’ stories resonated with his own background and family life as a youth. “There were times I wish I had somebody to talk to, or help me along the way when I had an issue, and I went through trouble because I didn’t have that. So to give somebody that type of guidance I didn’t have feels amazing.” When he was matched with his Little, they clicked over a shared love of food at a ramen restaurant, and the more his Little opened up to him, the more he realized just how much they have in common. “I always say, whoever it is that made the match, whoever’s the matchmaker- AMAZING job.”
Throughout the span of their relationship, Isaac has seen his mentee grow emotionally, develop stronger bonds with his family, and learn to express himself. “He said that when I first met him, he didn’t know how to express himself, and he’d keep it all inside.” Isaac supported his mentee in learning how to talk about his feelings instead of losing his temper, and now, according to Isaac, “he knows how to express his anger or frustration, and he doesn’t get upset anymore. He’s more happy now than he’s been before.” Nowadays, he continues to support his mentee as he navigates career and college choices, and he encourages his mentee to explore possibilities that seemed off limits. “I don’t think that he saw that he was capable to be in a high position in life, I think he just thought he would always be in that neighborhood. I told him, it’s okay to think BIG.”

Want to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC? Click here!

Aronda (New York Cares Volunteer)
February 1, 2016

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Aronda’s first volunteer experience was in junior high school, a result of a requirement to graduate which set her out to her local nursing home with a group of friends. Since then, she’s volunteered in a wide variety of capacities, as a student, and president of an organization with her college. It’s no surprise she ended up with New York Cares after she made a personal resolution to dedicate a hundred hours to volunteering in a year.

The experiences she’s accessed through New York Cares have helped her develop new and surprising skills, such as learning how to plant seeds and weed at a local family owned farm, or using power tools to renovate and restore homes after Hurricane Sandy hit. She also credits volunteering with helping her gain more social awareness, and feels it’s allowed her to really see the issues facing kids growing up in the Bronx today. Aronda values the direct impact her service makes on the lives of those around her, and with over two years and two hundred and fifty hours logged with New York Cares, it’s clear that her impact has been tremendous.

Want to learn more about New York Cares? Click Here

Krystal (Reading Partners Americorps Volunteer)
January 13, 2016

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Krystal’s first introduction to volunteering happened in high school, during service trips her school organized to local soup kitchens. Though she didn’t think much of the impact that volunteering had on her at the time, she knew it resonated deeply with the values and morals her upbringing in the Bronx instilled in her. Growing up witnessing the example of caring neighbors and friends in her childhood community of Kingsbridge taught her the value of helping others, and ultimately helped set her down the path of service. Throughout her adult life, she continued to pursue various volunteer opportunities; assisting students while in college, participating in AIDS and cancer walks, and ultimately signing on for a year of service with Reading Partners as an Americorps member.

These days, Krystal tutors and coordinates a Reading Partners program in a school in the Bronx, and relies on both her educational background, and her identity as a Bronxite to help her students succeed. “I can definitely see myself in these children, because I grew up the neighborhood, I went to a similar school,” She’s glad to be able to give back to the community she came from and hopes to see more people to do the same. “It’s special and different because the people who receive our services can relate to us, especially if we’re talking about the Bronx in particular,” she says, “I think they’re able to make a better connection.”

Want to learn more about Reading Partners? Click Here!

Bibi (JASA Volunteer)
December 22, 2015

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Bibi Rasul lives and volunteers in a housing complex in Pelham Parkway, The Bronx, but she grew up in Guyana. She never imagined that she’d one day find herself in America, but she feels gratitude for ending up in “such a beautiful country”, and especially grateful to have ended up in the Bronx because of the strength of the community here. “There’s a lot of help in the Bronx.”, she said, “I wouldn’t be happy going somewhere else to live. I went to Florida, I went to Washington D.C.; it’s not the same.”

Bibi’s deep love and connection to her community is due in no small part to her volunteering at her local senior center, JASA’s Sue Ginsburg Senior Center. She started volunteering with JASA six years ago, and felt that finding senior centers was “a dream come true”. She relishes in giving back to the seniors in the community by doing everyday acts of kindness that not only make a big difference, but form real, lasting friendships. By volunteering in and with her community, Bibi discovered a way to give back to the friends and neighbors that made her feel at home, while becoming a big part of what makes her community so special.

Want to learn more about JASA? Click here!

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