CentroNía depends on the support of hundreds of volunteers each year! Volunteers help teachers in their classrooms, provide assistance for technical or skilled tasks, and get their hands dirty cleaning and organizing. Throughout the year many local middle and high schools join CentroNía for community action days which provides a unique opportunity for older students to learn about early childhood education and in many cases develop special relationships with early learners. For more than three years CentroNía has welcomed volunteers into our center located in Columbia Heights from The Potomac School, an independent K–12 preparatory school in McLean, VA. Throughout this time we’ve seen many volunteers strive above and beyond for our community! One such student, Miles Turman, was so inspired by his time at CentroNía during the action days that he chose to return as a volunteer in order to complete his senior project.
When Miles first came to CentroNía he was immediately inspired by how the students were actively learning and speaking Spanish and English in the classroom. There was more to CentroNía’s magic though, Miles could sense there was more happening at the center than the activities in the classrooms. When he later became a senior, Miles knew he wanted to return to CentroNía to learn more about how its programs were impacting children and families. Michael Yacob, CentroNía’s Family Center Manager, jumped at the opportunity to have Miles volunteer with his team to help them with their services (and events) for families.
“Families would visit the Family Center for all kinds of reasons – to get free products from the diaper bank, for help finding employment, or even to seek advice during a difficult time,” said Miles. “Michael met with so many families and he always tried his best to help!”
As a volunteer Miles tabled at local events to help promote CentroNía and the services offered through the Family Center. Miles had a great time helping out with events too! In particular, he loved being a part of the annual CentroNía Cooking Competition where four families competed to claim the title of CentroNía Top Chef! It wasn’t the events though that made the strongest impression on Miles though. During the day he would spend his time in the Family Center with Michael and often families would come in seeking help with all sorts of things. One mother came in with her newborn child desperately seeking support with her resume so she could apply for jobs. Because she knew very little English (or Spanish), it was difficult to help her at first. Miles sat with her for hours and helped her edit her resume to ensure it was presentable. When they finished she even submitted a few applications with his help. In the end, she tearfully hugged and thanked Miles for being there for her in her family in their time of need. Moments like this are what make CentroNía such a special place!
“I was definitely out of my comfort zone at first in CentroNía’s Family Center, but the community was so welcoming!” said Miles. “While I may not have the chance to volunteer again at CentroNía, my experience there will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Miles will be attending Brown University this fall and he plans to study pre-med with the dream of one day becoming a doctor. While in college, he would like to continue to volunteer with organizations supporting children and families. Miles is destined to help people as a doctor and when that time comes he will certainly remember his time at CentroNía and the amount of love and compassion he witnessed in the Family Center.