Each month, the Mission Economic Development Agency honors one of its dedicated volunteers—the people who are an integral part of MEDA’s ability to provide free services to low- and moderate-income Bay Area residents. Thanks to all of the selfless MEDA volunteers who choose Plaza Adelante as their second home.
Name: Alice Yu
Program: Workforce Development (Young Adult programs mentor)
Why did you decide to volunteer with MEDA?
Throughout my academic years and my professional career at Google, I have been very fortunate that I have met many mentors who had provided me guidance and who have helped me get to where I am today. Although I have made good impacts at work, it was important for me to find ways to contribute outside of work–to give back to the community and to help people that are in need. Having moved to the States from Hong Kong and lived on my own since age 15, I believe that I can relate to the challenges young adults face today, and since I have worked in the technology industry for many years, I knew that I could add value to MEDA in helping disconnected and underserved youth to gain technology employment.
What projects have you worked on as a volunteer?
After my mentee had graduated from her Mission Techies program, she developed a deep interest in computer hardware and was interested in becoming a computer technician. I advised her that getting an A+ Certification would be very helpful, and I wrote a recommendation letter to support her scholarship application for a TechSF A+ Certification through the Bay Area Video Coalition. She got the scholarship and has been taking the training. She will take the certification test after the course, and we are planning at our next meet up to go through how to write a cover letter, a resume and a thank you email.
What do you like best about volunteering at MEDA?
One thing that I care strongly about is equal access for all. Like Google’s mission, making information accessible for everyone is so important. Underserved groups often lack connections outside of their social networks and their community. It’s the lack of information, opportunities and exposure to the jobs that they want that makes it even more difficult to figure out how to get there. Being a mentor, I can help bridge the gap and provide my mentee the same knowledge to which others may readily have access. Many times, having access to that knowledge is all someone needs to take the first step in achieving their goal.
What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
When I was first paired with my mentee, I wrote her and advised that I was so excited to be working with her, and I hope we will learn so much from each other. And so far it has been just that. Every time I meet with my mentee, I am always impressed by her drive, her love for her daughters and her commitment to improve her family’s life. But, most of all, her courage! She dreams big and is so hopeful about her future. It really touched me and reminded me to allow myself to dream big and not forget your unaffected, ingenious self.
Tell us something we may not know about you. Any interesting facts you’d like to share about your life?
I have lived in many places, including Hong Kong, Missouri, Chicago and New York. Mostly recently, I relocated to the Bay Area. I would love to join some communities to meet more like-minded people and find more channels to give back to those around us. Please reach out if you have any suggestions!
Looking to join a great cause, too? Find out how to volunteer at MEDA. We hope you can join us!