Volunteer News

A Star Of Our Own

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“Dedicated.  A pleasure to work with. Smart. Intelligent” are all words used to describe our Volunteer of the Month.

Yasmin Serrato, came to MEND approximately 6 years ago as an undergraduate student. She began volunteering in our Client Intake Department where she interacted with clients on a regular basis. She was so impressed with the organization’s volunteer workforce that she decided to become a long term volunteer.

Shortly after, Yasmin joined the Gala Committee which plans MEND’s biggest fundraiser of the year – an Academy Award viewing party. Yasmin took charge of the red carpet activities amongst other duties such as soliciting silent auction items, data entry and the “Predict the Winner” ballot voting process.

“I have volunteered at many organizations and MEND is one of the most well organized and very welcoming when it comes to working with volunteers,” states Yasmin.

In 2015, Yasmin took on a leadership role within the committee as co-chair. Her leadership this year helped yield a successful event. Her dedication, passion and intelligence have garnered her praise and admiration from her fellow volunteers and MEND staff.

“I have been so welcomed by MEND that over the years, our gala team has grown to feel like family. We have an amazing team that is very talented and supportive of each other. It is an honor to work with them.”


An Advocate for the Homeless

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Penelope McMillan has been a volunteer at MEND for 9 months. In such short amount of time, she has made an immense impact in our community. As a retired teacher and news reporter, Penelope has made it her goal to serve the homeless as humbly as she can. Here at MEND, she volunteers in our intake department on our homeless outreach day. During this time, she assists clients in receiving the proper services they need in the most caring way she can.  She has a kind soul that is passionate for helping the homeless and her compassion leads her to listen to clients’ problems with attentiveness and care.

When she’s not volunteering at our center, she tends to MEND’s garden plot at the Sylmar Community Garden and she makes sure to promote our agency to the homeless committee at the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. Penelope is a wonderful advocate for those who are less fortunate and her work here at MEND does not go unnoticed. It is because of volunteers like her that our clients’ needs are always met with dignity.


Trainee becomes the Trainer

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As an on-the-job trainee, Sandra Vidaurri came to MEND’s medical clinic to gain work experience. She began helping with medical and vision charts and as her knowledge of the medical clinic grew, the medical staff felt comfortable adding more responsibilities to her workload. She was moved to “back office” which involves taking patients’ vitals, assisting the MD’s, keeping track of the medical clinic inventory, making sure all tools are up to date and that patients’ labs are picked up. Even then, Sandra continued to go above and beyond and was then rotated to take on the appointment system task.

Sandra has excelled in the medical clinic duties and is now also responsible for training other medical assistants on the different tasks she’s already mastered. Sandra is described as responsible, honest, and hard-working. The medical staff praises her trustworthiness and work ethic.

The skills she’s gained at MEND’s medical clinic and her work ethic have allowed her to gain part-time employment at a medical clinic. She’s also decided to go back to school and pursue a career as a registered nurse. With Sandra’s commitment and dedication, we have no doubt that she will achieve her goal.


A Tutor for the Ages

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David Correa began as a MEND volunteer last summer when he decided to give back to the community as a tutor. Now, eight months into his volunteer service, David has become a beloved tutor and is well liked among his fellow tutors, MEND staff and students. His patience, knack for teaching coupled with his ability to explain concepts in a positive way are among the qualities that earned him the esteemed Volunteer of the Month award. According to the Youth Services Coordinator, Andrea Lopez, the students love to work with David and always request him as their tutor.

With full university course load, David is very dedicated to his community service spending approximately nine hours each week at MEND. He sees the students as “leaders of tomorrow” and takes the time to listen to their struggles. David even tutors any age group – a skill many do not possess.

Thanks to volunteers like David, MEND is able to deliver high quality service to its clients – in this case, the “leaders of tomorrow.”


Hugh Pearson – The Dedicated Worker

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Many of MEND’s volunteers have unique backgrounds, and this month’s Volunteer of Month is no exception. In 2002, Hugh Pearson moved to Shanghai to work as a sales representative for an international company. Shortly after, he met his wife and moved to Malaysia with their two children. With his immediate environment becoming increasingly dangerous coupled with his father’s illness back home, Hugh decided to move his family back to the U.S.

Needing to readjust back to the workforce in the United States, Hugh sought out MEND to gain job readiness skills. Since August 2015, Hugh has brought his intelligence and great work ethic to the MEND Center, working with the Fundraising/Development department. His daily duties include data entry, batching deposits, and removing errors from MEND’s donor database.

Hugh is currently helping with MEND’s annual fundraising gala by soliciting silent auction donors and updating the auction site.

Hugh’s sense of humor is refreshing, and his work ethic has earned him the respect of the rest of the administration staff and fellow volunteers.

Although he looks forward to the day when he is employed full time, Hugh sees himself as a life-long MEND volunteer. “”When I find a job, I will still return to help MEND any chance I get,” Hugh says. “I like working at MEND because I know I am working at a place that is directly helping the people who need help, bypassing any middle man, they go right to the need and fill it.”

By volunteer Amaani Sanwari