The Importance of Volunteers
Our mission, “Cultivating and celebrating inclusion, community, and success through a focused English language experience,” is enhanced by the support of volunteers. As a non-profit, New America College (NAC) very much appreciates the role of its volunteers, especially as it allows us to achieve our goal of offering services at an affordable price. Volunteers show us how much they value the work we do in the community by offering us their considerable skills. Our Board members, for example, are all volunteers. They have significant experience in fundraising, community development, HR and nonprofit management, among other things.
We would like to showcase one of our amazing volunteers, Mr. Rich Duke. Rich has been with NAC for many, many years. He is a tireless volunteer, and has been running our free conversation class for a very long time! We don’t have the words to express how much we appreciate Rich, but everybody who meets him can tell immediately that he is a warm, kind, and giving person. He has dedicated much of his life to working with international students, and is a wonderful teacher of all skills. We love having Rich around NAC, and we hope Rich feels the same!
Who is Rich Duke?
Rich is a Colorado native who returned to the state after living in various places around the world. A husband of 34 years, father and grandfather, Rich enjoys conversations over hot coffee, hiking in the mountains, playing disc golf, visiting historical places and of course, reading books to his grandchildren.
How did you find NAC and begin vounteering?
I started volunteering at NAC while working as an ESL teacher. There was a need for students to practice what they were learning in the classroom. To support that need we started a weekly conversation group and held monthly field trips. It has been fun building relationships with NAC students while helping them improve their language skills. I also appreciate the friends of mine who have been willing to give their time and help with these events over the years.
What is it about NAC and its mission that made you interested in volunteering?
The fact that the school, its leadership, the teachers…they all have a desire to serve the students. Each student, regardless of their background, history or culture, is valued and respected.
What is your favorite part about being involved with NAC and its students?
The opportunity to learn and grow through meeting people from around the world. Also, it is satisfying to be able to help people develop their English language skills.
From your perspective what contributions can volunteers make to NAC and its mission/goals?
Have you had people reach out to you and lend you a helping hand at some point in your life’s journey? Volunteering with NAC is an opportunity to do the same. Be a friend. Come alongside and listen. Encourage. Show hospitality. Support.
Any anecdotes you would like to share from your experiences at NAC?
A few years ago a young student from Angola was attending the conversation group. He mentioned he was having a hard time reading and seeing the board in class because he had broken his glasses. He didn’t have the money to buy a new pair and was feeling frustrated. Anne, the volunteer leading the conversation group, said she would be happy to arrange for him to get his eyes checked and new glasses. During the following week Anne picked up the student from his apartment and took him to the eye appointment. She also got him new pair of glasses. This student completed his English program at NAC with excellence and just this year graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.
Anything you would say to either potential students or potential volunteers?
NAC is more than a school. It is a community where people learn and grow together as they move toward their life goals. And have fun in the process! I am thankful to have been part of this community for the past 9 years.