To celebrate our inspiring Oakland School Volunteers, we’re asking them to share their stories. These are their Volunteer Voices.
Recently, I volunteered for the first time as an Oakland School Volunteer. In fact, it was my first volunteer experience of any kind. I had been wanting to reach out to the community, but a kind of paralysis kept me frozen in my daily routine. It was just too easy to go to work, come home, and watch Netflix or some other activity around the house.
Breaking out of my cocoon to volunteer was something I was “going to get around to.” Eventually, after the tragic social injustices of the latter half of this year, the urge to do something positive for others was too strong, and I made the move to volunteer. I chose to do so in Oakland public schools on the good advice of someone very close to me: my mother.
The woman who raised me has been teaching in the California public school system for 20 years, and when I mentioned my desire to volunteer, she immediately pointed me in this direction. She said our public schools could use all the help they can get, and that my support would be greatly welcomed. Signing up to become a volunteer through the Ed Fund’s website was really quite easy, and the program coordinator, Lilly Smith, makes sure everything moves smoothly so volunteers are matched quickly with a fitting school.
For me, that was Brookfield Elementary. Heading there on my first day of volunteering, I felt nervous. I suppose that feeling is to be expected when you venture outside your comfort zone and into the unknown. I did a variety of things that day, from helping out in a couple classrooms to stapling students’ classwork to the hallway walls, and everyone I met was welcoming and grateful for the help. I kept an open mind and doing so went a long way in helping me have a productive and enjoyable time.
My mother also made the point that, as someone who is considering a teaching career, being in a school environment might help me decide to pursue a teaching credential. So for anyone thinking about becoming a teacher, volunteering with OUSD has both altruistic and practical benefits, a combination that is hard to beat!
I look forward to my weekly trips to Brookfield so that I can play any part asked of me to help the school and its students and teachers be successful. As you can see, I have made a complete 180-degree turn from my early hesitation, and feel that anyone in the same position will be able to make the same transformation and find both joy and fun in helping make a difference in the education of the younger generation.
— Brookfield Elementary School Volunteer Daniel Urtasen
Inspired by Daniel’s story? Become an Oakland School Volunteer by signing up here!
If you’d like to make your own Volunteer Voice heard, please email Oakland School Volunteers Program Coordinator Lilly Smith (email@example.com).