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: Yuka Ogasawara
Program: Workforce Development
Why did you decide to volunteer with MEDA?
MEDA has a long history in the sphere of social impact. Most notably, MEDA led — and succeded in — the revitalization of San Francisco’s Mission district. And as a student majoring in Social Welfare, specifically poverty in developed countries, MEDA proved itself to be a perfect use case, and model, for my studies.
The nonprofit sector in Japan is still in a rudimentary stage, and with the poverty rate rising in Japan, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. MEDA serves as a great real-world foundation to my knowledge in solving these issues, both in working with communities and knowing how CBOs operate.
What projects have you worked on as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, I have been doing data entry to manage our clients’ information with various departments. I can learn how many clients come to MEDA, receive support from MEDA and how CBOs are being run. Also, I have visited some places, such as restaurants and hotels, to search for new job opening for our clients, Meanwhile, I have been calling for their cooperative supports to make this area a better place. Regardless of the department, I have attended a number of meetings and had an opportunity to know more about MEDA’s projects.
What do you like best about volunteering at MEDA?
Working at MEDA has provided me with firsthand knowledge that one can never imagine in Japan. I feel strong enthusiasm from my coworkers for making social impacts through work. In addition, MEDA’s staff seems to be pleasantly working and enjoying both their work and private time! They are very kind to me, so I really enjoy the time at work. MEDA’s working style significantly differs from that in Japan, and this experience is interesting and important to me. MEDA’s working style has now become my role model.
What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
I can feel how closely MEDA gets involved with our clients through work. Furthermore, MEDA has been tackling challenges on a huge scale to better the Mission District. I can imagine large institutions, such as the government, participating in this kind of substantially huge scale of projects for the citizens, but I cannot imagine any CBO doing that. I would like to bring my knowledge that I have learned in MEDA back to Japan and I make my country’s NGOs more creative.
Tell us something we may not know about you. Any interesting facts you’d like to share about your life?
One of my hobbies is hip-hop dance, which I have been doing since I was six years old. I have been taking a hip-hop dance class once a week since I came to San Francisco. I have also gotten into yoga, introduced tome by one of my coworkers. I have been healthier than ever before, but my weight somehow keeps going up … I have no idea why! So I am thinking that I have to start exercising harder!