Tola Ogundare is a volunteer who truly enjoys and appreciates young people. He feels called to give back to the community by making a positive impact on youth. He knows that volunteering is important for building strong communities, and he learned from his parents that what you give as a volunteer, while adding value to another person’s life, also brings fulfillment and a sense of well-being to the giver.
“Giving makes me happy,” he shared. “When you give, it always comes back to you.”
Ogundare, a manager with remodeling company KBYS Holdings LLC, is a mentor with Kinship of Greater Minneapolis. He was matched with 12-year-old Quanye nine months ago and has enjoyed the friendship every step of the way. The two get together most weeks and do simple activities together. Sometimes they go out walking, other times they catch a movie, but they always make time to talk and continue developing their friendship.
What do a grown man and an adolescent boy have in common — what do they talk about?
“I talk to Quanye about his dreams and goals. I try to teach him the difference between hobbies and real-life skills. I push for him to stay in school and help him understand how important it is to get a good education,” said Ogundare, who lives in Columbia Heights.
“I try to make a difference in Quanye’s life by being that positive light that all kids need. I try to show him how he can have a bright future, and I share different experiences with him. Each time we meet, he is more receptive and more comfortable with me.”
Ogundare is concerned about the upcoming generation not connecting with adults. He hopes that people of his generation, especially men, understand the importance of passing on knowledge and experience to youth. He looks for opportunities to encourage friends to step forward and get to know someone who might need an older role model and friend.
As is often quoted, the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Ogundare takes this quote seriously and plans to continue to be part of changing the nation — one step and one life at a time.
“Helping to improve one life is part of the process toward the healing of the world,” said Ogundare.
Joy and happiness are important to Ogundare, and he plans to continue passing it on through his personal investment in today’s youth. He encourages others to affect the next generation by reaching out to someone and getting involved.
When asked what he would say to a group of potential male mentors, Ogundare said, “It’s healthy being around happy people, and it’s important for kids to have good role models. Mentoring makes me happy and is changing the way one boy sees himself and the world. I am the happiest man in Minnesota. Give volunteering a try, and help heal the world with joy.”
To learn more about Kinship, call 612-588-4655 or go to www.kinship.org.
Nancy Torrison is director of community relations for the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, home of the Kinship program.