In honor of the National Volunteer Appreciation Week, the Volunteer Coordination team sat down with Kent Weaver, volunteer at the Carlos Rosario School, to find out more about what drives him to volunteer. We were honored to learn more about him and his passion for food justice, welcoming immigrant communities, and ending homelessness.
In addition to devoting his career to education, Kent has been a lifelong volunteer. “Through the years I have had a strong interest in social justice issues,” he said. The first cause he volunteered for was building safe homes in neglected areas of Appalachia, a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama and Georgia. Since then he has been committed to the fight to end homelessness and now helps run two transitional shelters for the National United Methodist Church here in DC.
Through his church, Kent was involved in social justice circles where last year he learned more about the Carlos Rosario School and the challenges that immigrant communities face from our CEO Allison Kokkoros. He was inspired and became involved with our school as a volunteer.
On Thursdays, Kent volunteers with a digitization and data project led by Francesca Ruberti, Student Success Coordinator at the Sonia Gutierrez Campus. Though it is “behind the scenes” work, Kent has really made a mark. “He is funny. He makes jokes and livens up our mornings,” said Francesca. Kent’s educational background and understanding of record keeping is a great fit for the role as Francesca, who helps connect students to college, seeks to improve our database and recordkeeping so we can more easily find files and more effectively serve our students.
We see more of his outgoing personality on Wednesday mornings at the Harvard Street campus where Kent volunteers leading a conversation circle with students. “Students are so engaged and motivated to come back and continue practicing their English because of the energy and preparation that Kent brings every time” said Zoila Hall, Volunteer Coordinator at our School. Creating this environment is crucial to student engagement in enrichment activities like conversation circles as many students’ demanding work/school/life schedules require an energetic volunteer to keep them coming back to take advantage of the extra practice. “When you walk into your [School], you see the world as you ought to be,” said Kent.
Each of us has a different motivation for volunteering. For Kent, as he shared with us, volunteering is a way to act out his faith. Through his church, not only does Kent help run the transitional shelters but he is also involved in food recovery efforts. “There are places in the city that are food desserts. Places where there is no grocery store for miles. But there is also much food waste across the city,” he said as his eyes lit up with a determination to seek justice and a desire to build a better world for all.
In this cause, Kent has partnered with various grocery stores and schools to use good food that would have otherwise been thrown away to fight hunger. He partnered with our school’s food services team through Chef Sebastien Lamerre to provide food on a weekly basis for one of the transitional shelters he helps run. Kent shares this experience with many of our students who also volunteer for causes they care about through their places of worship.
When we asked him what has been the most rewarding part of volunteering at our school he said “I’ve met some amazing people. I repeatedly tell [students] that I am in awe of them. They are incredibly brave.”
Volunteers like Kent and staff like Francesca, Sebastien, and Zoila, along with our students, help us create a world as it ought to be. We sincerely thank all of our volunteers for all they do and inspiring all of us to do more!
“Anybody that is willing to dedicate their time to support our community has a big heart,” said Francesca.