This month’s thought leader piece is written by Hana Johnson. Hana is a lifelong devotee to service and support for marginalized people. She has been part of the New American Pathways team since 2017 and currently serves as the Sr Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator. Previously she served two years as an AmeriCorps Member at New American Pathways. Hana believes that everyone deserves access to the best opportunities life has to offer, and wants to be part of making sure barriers are broken and opportunities are accessible for new Americans and for people like her. She is excited that every day that she gets to work in a role where her life can be centered around serving others.
New American Pathways’ Volunteers have stood beside the families we support through the past year and all the challenges COVID-19 has offered them. We have seen support come from all ends of the community with so many people ready to do whatever is needed to meet emergency needs, ongoing needs, and to be advocates for new Americans. Through the pandemic, volunteers have remained an important part of the model built to support the clients New AP serves. From tutoring clients in their schools and homes to then adapting to tutoring them virtually for close to a year, their commitment does not go unnoticed! The work our volunteers do is not quick and easy. It requires time, patience, and commitment. New Americans are on a continuous path to success and New American Pathways’ volunteers are walking with them, side by side.
Our current volunteer opportunities aim to promote self-sufficiency and are designed to support program activities that lead clients towards success. Right now, this includes After School Tutoring, English at Home, and Mentors for Vocational Pathways. Volunteers support school aged children with their homework and skill building, they help English learners who are not able to attend traditional English classes, walk towards a goal of English fluency, and they mentor clients in their chosen career fields, bringing them that much closer to fulfilling lifelong or newfound dreams.
New American Pathways places precedence on supporting clients where it has been expressed that support is needed. It’s important for us to create a space for volunteers to partner with clients while understanding and respecting all the ways we may be different. As volunteers walk alongside refugees as teachers they are also growing and learning.
Volunteers are an integral part of our milestone model that has resulted in many new Americans finding a place in the U.S. where they can excel! A volunteer’s commitment to being a part of a support network that guides New AP clients to self-sufficiency, provides a service that supports this model. Volunteers have offered our clients access to their unique sets of experience, giving them exposure to careers, skills, and opportunities that can oftentimes be difficult to access.
At New American Pathways, client, volunteer, and organization goals promoting self-sufficiency, success, and service align. We get to focus on how our volunteers can partner with the families we serve to help them reach their personal goals. That is why each partnership between volunteers and clients is a unique one. While one volunteer may be focused on teaching a client English, another volunteer may be partnered with a client to help them study for a citizenship or driver’s test.
Walking side by side with new Americans, 480 New AP volunteers devoted over 7,000 hours of their time last year. So far, this fiscal year, 291 volunteers have spent over 5,000 hours supporting new Americans! All those hours are steps towards new American’s achieving their goals.