April is National Volunteer Month, and the City of Philadelphia is thanking all volunteers who give the gift of time and service to our communities.
We celebrated with a daily volunteer spotlight! Each day on social media, we shared the story of a volunteer or national service member making an impact in Philadelphia.
Learn about our featured volunteers for April 22 – 30 below:
Marijana is a volunteer with the Languages and Learning Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She has participated in several English programs as a language learner, and she currently leads two Latin language learning groups and one Italian language learning group. Participants in Marijana’s groups often share how grateful they are for the opportunity to learn with and from her. She is a dedicated and gifted teacher and a thoughtful and creative advisor.
Luka attended Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture summer camp for six summers and now volunteers as a camp counselor. He is passionate about giving campers an opportunity to learn about Arabic culture and enjoys working with the teachers at the camp. Luka is patient, gracious, and willing to go out of his way to give each of the campers the best experience possible.
Alijandrina ‘Ali’ Martinez
Ali is a current staff member PowerCorpsPHL,a program that provides career-connected education and paid work experiences in collaboration with AmeriCorps, EducationWorks, and the City of Philadelphia. She started her journey with PowerCorpsPHL as a member in March of 2020. When PowerCorpsPHL service went virtual, Ali volunteered to serve meals in-person at South Philadelphia High School. She’s kept her focus on the community while taking advantage of all the opportunities available during her term of service. During her term of service, she completed her OSHA 30 certification and got her driver’s license through PowerCorpsPHL. Ali became PowerCorpsPHL’s first Operations Fellow and was hired as a staff member shortly after. She has embodied what success at PowerCorpsPHL looks like.
William “Bill” Diaco
Bill Diaco is a Senior Web Analyst at Comoto. Bill volunteers at events organized by Comoto, and he volunteers with Uhuru Furniture and Collectibles most Saturdays. He uses his data analytics and business intelligence experience to support Uhuru’s work. Bill has been a consistent volunteer at Uhuru since 2020 because he admires their work and enjoys using his professional skills for a great cause.
Di Dang is a volunteer intern with the Northeast Philadelphia Chinese Association (NEPCA). She serves 10-15 hours a week and helps NEPCA apply for grants, prepare budgets, maintain volunteer databases, and more. As an accounting student, Di has offered quality services to NEPCA that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve without her.
Hannah Derwick is an employee with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who volunteers in the community to address the needs of children and families. She has volunteered at vaccine clinics and food distribution events. She teaches families about gun safety and physical activity. She is also a Reading Coach for elementary school children. It’s important to Hannah to make an impact locally and make long term connections in the community where she works and lives.
Thanking the local legal community
The Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) wants to thank volunteers who stepped up to support our city’s response to new arrivals who were bussed to Philadelphia from Texas in late 2022. Volunteers from our local legal community were invaluable. Staff from organizations like HIAS PA, NSC, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), PA Immigrant Family Unity Project, and more showed up and gave “Know Your Rights” presentations, on-site counsel, and overall legal orientation that helped calm our new arrivals’ immediate legal concerns.
In particular, OIA thanks Judy Bernstein-Baker, Esq., who came out of retirement to support interviews and screenings at the Welcome Center. Not only is she a brain trust in the world of immigration law, she’s also the sweetest person ever.
Thanking the local grassroots community
The Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) wants to thank our grassroots volunteers who supported our city’s response to new arrivals who were bussed to Philadelphia from Texas in late 2022.
In particular, OIA wants to thank Judy Reitzes at Grannies Respond for volunteering to facilitate English groups! Judy is a retired ESL teacher at Community College of Philadelphia who’s been with Grannies Respond for 2 years and helped new arrivals practice basic English vocabulary while they were at the city’s Welcome Center.
OIA also wants to thank Clara Jerez at the St. Thomas Aquinas Community Center. Clara has led weekly workshops at the Welcome Center, talking with folks about how to navigate new life in Philadelphia. She’s done everything from helping coordinate workshops and outings, setting up apartments, moving people into permanent housing, and organizing fun holiday and birthday celebrations for new arrivals. Clara’s consistent presence at the Welcome Center provided a certain structure and comfort to everyone.
Finally, OIA thanks Angie Medero-Gallelli of Gente de Venezuela, who was the “make it happen” volunteer. A lot of Angie’s work focused on children. For example, Angie led outings with kids to the Museum and to Christmas Village, using it both as a way to have fun and for new arrivals to acclimate to SEPTA. Angie is another joyful presence, who would come from a full work day and show up at the Welcome Center glowing and just giving energy.
Many thanks to these volunteers for your time, dedication, and commitment to service, and to the organizations who shared their volunteers’ stories and impact!
Want to volunteer with any of the organizations featured on this page? Check out their opportunities below: