My volunteer experience at Esperanza United with Macalester’s Bonner community scholar program

By Analeidi Barrera

In my second year at Macalester college, I had the incredible opportunity as a Bonner Scholar to work with a nonprofit of my choosing. The Bonner Community Scholar Program partners with service organizations in Minnesota that center social justice, civic engagement, and community building. Esperanza United’s volunteer opportunities were a natural fit because of my desire to work with the Latin@ community and speak Spanish.

After going through the Family Advocacy interview process, I was beyond thrilled to hear that I had been accepted. I was trained to know more about the Latin@ community and Esperanza United’s trauma-informed and culturally-specific approach to ending domestic violence. Eventually, I started shadowing emergency crisis calls and answering them myself. Answering crisis calls was not easy, but knowing that I was able to help people was rewarding. I worked with some of the most supportive and knowledgeable people that I have ever encountered. The advocates at Esperanza United are quick on their feet, sympathetic, and think deeply before providing an answer to a question. Some of the people that I am very grateful to have worked with are Irene Ochoa, Teresa Burns, Sarahi Mateo, Danielle Sullivan, and Lucia Rojas.

I also had the incredible opportunity to help with different projects. At the beginning of my internship I conducted a survey that improved services for Esperanza United’s shelter participants. Now, during my last year in college, I’m Esperanza United’s Volunteer Ambassador so I oversee all of their volunteers in Minnesota. For one of my big projects during the pandemic, I developed a training instructing volunteers on how to answer crisis calls. I have had the chance to support Esperanza United in many ways and each one of them has provided me with an invaluable learning experience.

In May 2021 I will be graduating from Macalester and I intend to carry what I’ve learned as a volunteer into my future career. Working at Esperanza United has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It has opened my eyes to wide-ranging topics about the Latin@ community and domestic violence that I didn’t know were related. From the beginning of my internship to this day, I have had the honor of learning through a hands-on approach and am immensely grateful for it.

If you are interested in volunteering with Esperanza United check our webpage for openings