Volunteer News

Teaching ESL is second nature to this MEND volunteer

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One student had a novel motivation to learn English. Her future daughter-in-law didn’t speak Spanish, and she wanted to make sure she could talk with her. “There’s all kinds of reasons people give for taking the class,” says Daniel Jordan, a 23-year-old ESL teacher at MEND. “It’s never just one or two things.”

Since becoming a MEND volunteer in 2014, Jordan says students have told him they choose the class because they wanted access to better jobs, pass the citizenship test or simply to fit into their community better. “They want to learn English so they feel more like they’re a part of where they live,” he says.

Jordan, a Northern California native, learned his second language in an unconventional way. Home schooled, one day his mother bought Rosetta Stone Spanish software. He loved it. But the small town he grew up had a limited Latino population, so Jordan went on line and became friends with people who were fluent. They helped with grammar and overall comprehension.

A few years ago, he moved to Southern California to go to The Master’s University in Santa Clarita. When he got here, he wanted to become involved in the area and googled volunteer positions, finding the opening for a teacher at MEND. Despite studying the language, he didn’t often hear it spoken. “At first it was a challenge to me when the students talked,” he said. “It’s not one anymore. But they definitely helped.”

During the 15-week course, he has seen people go from being unable to say a word in English to becoming conversational. The best part, he says, is seeing the improvement and confidence grow in the students. Also, he says, the learning process has become a great deal of fun. “It’s very enjoyable for all of us,” says Jordan of the roughly 30 students per class. “We become like one big family. We have a party at the end and everyone is having a good time, clapping.”

Despite teaching ESL, Jordan says having the students learn English is only one of his goals. The other is teaching them how to learn. Often, students have little formal education, so he teaches them how to study, ask questions and retrain information. These are skills that will help them throughout their lives. “I’m really just a tool for them to use, something to better themselves,” he says. Although he’s now a full-time accountant at Vallarta Supermarkets, Jordan says he looks forward to the two weekly classes at MEND and the chance to help. “I love teaching at MEND,” he says. “Some of these students have become best friends.”

By Volunteer Bill Kelley


MEND – A little piece of the puzzle

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At 45 years old, Osmara Del Cid is still determined to fulfill her professional goal of working in the medical field. As a young mother, Osmara entered the workforce as a receptionist and administrative assistant working in the health care industry.  After giving birth to her fourth child, it became difficult to balance motherhood and the workforce, which ultimately led her to become a stay-at-home mother.

Now, ready to get back in the workforce, Osmara realized that she needed some work experience in addition to her education to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). She sought to volunteer in MEND’s medical clinic in order to receive proper work experience and medical training.

“Volunteering at MEND has been a great experience. Prior to MEND, I had no work experience in the medical field” says Osmara. “I have liked being able to help patients that otherwise would not be able to seek medical assistance. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to help where needed.”

At the clinic, Osmara’s regular duties included booking medical appointments, taking vitals, assisting in the pharmacy, translating for doctors, and inputting client data. She even helped orient new medical clinic job trainees and volunteer nurses.

“MEND goes out of their way to help out whoever is in need. It’s a really good feeling to be in that position. I would go home and reflect on my day and I knew I helped someone. I was able to be a little piece of the puzzle for someone, whether it was taking their vital signs or accept their donation to MEND. There is a feeling of satisfaction helping someone who’s in need. MEND is a little piece of the puzzle for my story.”

As a result of her training at MEND, Osmara is now a licensed vocation nurse at Pacifica Hospital. Her new goal is to become a registered nurse (RN).

“I was so young when I had my first child. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and now I do. Regardless of my age, I set out to do something a long time ago and I’m going to do it. My children are my driving force.”


Volunteer of the Month – Joanna Del Campo

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Joanna Del Campo found MEND eight months ago and has not left since! She volunteers daily in the intake and shower programs inputting client data and working directly with MEND clients. Her fellow volunteers appreciate her “forever smile” and hardworking attitude. MEND clients, in turn, comment positively on Joanna’s energy and compassion. “Joanna gets things done at MEND. A volunteer with such dedication and passion helps the organization fulfill its mission” says her supervisor, Gabby Olea, MEND’s Client Intake Coordinator.

Congrats Joanna on your “Volunteer of the Month” award!


Lynda Winters – Volunteer of the Month

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“The Grow Together Program connects MEND clients with one another and helps to develop skills and self-sufficiency” says Lynda Winter, this month’s Volunteer of the Month.

For the past eight months, Lynda has volunteered with MEND’s Grow Together Program focusing mainly on the program’s new initiative, La Colectiva. Initiated by Adam Brooks, the Grow Together Program VISTA, La Colectiva is a group of families who receive supplemental training on market gardening, an extra supply of plants and support in order to sell their produce and market their product. Lynda has designed program materials for the initiative, in particular, La Colectiva graphics and box design. She also lends her skills to data entry, research, mailing assembly and other miscellaneous tasks.

Adam describes Lynda as having a “strong character and loving heart.” Her ability to act as a sounding board and regular contributor to the work of the overall Grow Together Program has earned her respect from MEND staff and volunteers alike.


Sandra Sandoval – Volunteer of the Month

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Sandra Sandoval has been a part of the MEND volunteer community for the past seven months. She came to MEND as a volunteer looking not only to give back but to improve her job skills. Shortly after her arrival, she was placed in MEND’s Computer Lab. She volunteers about 30 hours a week in the lab performing various tasks such as client support, computer teacher/substitute, data entry, office receptionist, registration/enrollment event lead, outreach and volunteer trainer. Essentially, she helps out where needed.

In her off time, MEND is not far away from Sandra’s mind. She is known to distribute event flyers to community members and referring individuals who need help. Rubicela Ochoa, MEND’s Computer Lab Coordinator, describes Sandra as a quick learner, highly motivated, loyal and dependable. Computer Lab students also sing high praises of Sandra. They recognize her passion for the community when teaching.

For Sandra, she is grateful for her continued service at MEND. “The volunteer training I receive here at MEND has expanded my knowledge to succeed in my future career” she concludes.