A Very Rewarding Feeling

PPL Youth Mentor - WebLong-Time Volunteer Building Relationships and Sees Results

“I was a little overwhelmed at first,” explains Alfred Chiu, recalling his first day as a youth program volunteer at PPL in the summer of 2011. “I didn’t know what to expect, and there were a lot of kids running around!”

What Alfred did next would change his perspective on the world and the community he lives in. It would also have a deep impact that’s still being felt three years later.

Alfred moved to St. Paul to work as an engineer after graduating college. He began to look for volunteer opportunities in his neighborhood similar to the tutoring roles he had in college.

“I was living with people serving in AmeriCorps, and I got a feel for activism and working to make the world a better place,” Alfred recalls. “I wanted to be a part of that.”

Eventually Alfred connected with PPL and volunteered at PPL’s summer program in St. Paul. Volunteers are paired with students on a one-to-one basis to work on literacy skills as well as a community garden.

Held at a school near PPL housing, Alfred remembers seeing energetic youth playing basketball and climbing on the jungle gym on his first day as a volunteer. The energy of the youth stunned him at first, but he decided to introduce himself and join in the fun. It was a decision that started a unique relationship with a particular student named Michael.

“We really connected on the playground and we started working together on reading skills,” Alfred said. “It was really fun to work with him, and it became something I looked forward to doing after work every week.”

Today, three years later, Alfred is still tutoring the same student. He’s inspired by the growth he has seen in Michael, both in school and life.

“His reading skills have greatly improved, which is a very rewarding feeling. He enjoys reading more now, and it has given him confidence in other subjects as well. He’s also matured, and it’s rewarding to see him grow as a person. It would be great to see him stick with it and go off to college one day.”

Alfred has seen the impact his volunteer work has had on Michael’s life, and his own.

“Volunteering at PPL has changed my view of the world around me,” Alfred explains. “I grew up in a small, affluent suburb, and moving to St. Paul and seeing the neighborhood and meeting the families we work with has given me a different perspective. It’s motivated me to be more involved and engaged in my community, and I’d really encourage that for everyone.”

To learn how you can get involved at PPL as a volunteer, please contact Julie Huck at 612.455.5111.

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