Meet Tiffany and Olas, PPL Tutor-Mentors

Meet Tiffany and Olas, dedicated PPL Tutor-Mentor volunteers both in their second year with PPL Scholars. Friends from college, they both enjoy supporting PPL Scholars, PPL’s twice weekly after-school tutoring and mentoring program. Tutor-Mentors are individually matched with youth living in PPL housing to build social and academic skills through literacy tutoring, relationship building, and enrichment activities. Read on to learn more about Tiffany and Olas, and why they value their time with PPL.


Tell us a bit about yourself:

Tiffany: I live in the St. Paul area, where I was born and raised. I work at a medical device company, where I spend my days advocating for my patients, doing research and writing to help them receive services that their insurances don’t want to pay for. My work combines my love of helping others and being overly-organized. In my free time I enjoy volunteering, hanging out with friends and binge-watching Netflix.

Olas: I’m from Northwest Indiana but moved to Minneapolis for college, where I almost immediately met Tiffany! Tiffany dated my freshman roommate, so we started hanging out and remained friends after they broke up. I work as an engineer at a company that makes light-based industrial sensors and safety equipment. I am an avid environmentalist and I enjoy teaching people how to recycle and compost properly as well as participate in cleanup efforts with the National Park Service and the Mississippi River Connection.


What do you like best about volunteering as a Tutor-Mentor?

Tiffany: The best thing about volunteering as a Tutor-Mentor is definitely the kids. I love being able to help them learn and grow, and seeing the joy on their faces when they overcome a challenge. Being with my mentee each week at PPL has really become a form of self-care for me.

Olas: I feel like the students genuinely enjoy spending time with everyone in program. I also like that the program isn’t just homework time; we are there to read together and create a stress-free environment for the students.


How do you feel you’ve made a difference at your site?

Tiffany: I think the biggest difference is being able to build strong relationships with our kiddos, and being an adult that they feel comfortable around and can talk to. It feels great when we’re sitting in our circle doing yoga, and a mentee says their favorite place to be is at Scholars.

Olas: By showing up even when my Scholar hasn’t, I’ve shown the kids in the program that reliability is not something that should be unexpected. The Scholars’ lives are complicated, but coming to program and reading should not be and is not the hardest part of their day.


Do you have a favorite memory from program?

Tiffany: The other day I was working with a Scholar who has hearing sensitivities, so she struggles with loud noises and it’s difficult for her to be in the room with all the other kids sometimes. We were doing our enrichment activity when she started to feel overwhelmed. I saw her holding her hands over her ears, so we quickly went into the quiet room. She explained why she felt so upset, and what was causing her to feel that way. She played with some kinetic sand and we did some yoga together. She even came up with a solution that would allow her to go back to complete the activity with the rest of the group. It was great to see her using her self-care and communication skills to take care of herself!

Olas: My favorite story is that of me and my current student. He started the program incredibly shy and quiet; he had no problem reading the stories that we were provided, but he was not interested in talking with me or the other students in the program. After a few weeks in the program, though, and a little prodding on my end, he has warmed up immensely. I am so excited that he is comfortable coming to program and his confidence has skyrocketed.


Interested in volunteering as a Tutor-Mentor with PPL Scholars? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Caitlin Dougherty to learn more or sign up:

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