Our March Volunteer of the Month is Makeda Sandra Hooper Mayfield!
We recently wrapped up this year’s Young Authors’ Book Project, one of our biggest annual projects, and we couldn’t be more proud of it! This year, as part of our Black Student Initiative, volunteer tutors work closely with students from SFUSD’s African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative (AAALI) as they wrote pieces on the topic of being Black in America. One of those volunteers who made this project a success? None other than March Volunteer of the Month, Makeda Sandra Hooper Mayfield! Makeda joined us as a new tutor specifically for YABP, and brought so much wisdom and joy into her tutoring sessions. Read on to learn more about her experience, and to hear her words of wisdom.
- What is one of your favorite moments (memories, experiences or anecdotes!) from volunteering with 826 Valencia?
I think my favorite moment was when I realized that my student was listening. She was interested in Cecilia Arrington, [my Black Studies teacher at Merrit College] and willing to investigate it. That was beautiful to me! It was like the tradition of the griot: passing on tradition and family history in the African Community/African oral tradition. In the movie Roots, Alex Haley got all the information by going to his village and listened to the griot. If that’s what your tribe does, there’s someone in every tribe that passes down the information to the next generation of sons.
The other thing that I was touched by, is that my student did not show us her face until the very end. I don’t know if that was purposeful, I don’t know why that was, but I appreciated it because I had a vision of what she might look like, and there was something mysterious and beautiful about the whole process because I couldn’t see her.
She taught me; I was touched by everything she taught me, too.
- What led you to become part of our volunteer community?
[My friend Karla Brundage, Mission Bay Programs Manager], invited me [to participate in YABP], and I never say no to anything that has to do with reading and writing volunteer work. In my own personal life, the ability to read and write saved my life!
- Given a choice of the three, which would you choose: pirates, pufferfish, or woodland creatures? Why?
Woodland creatures because there’s magic in the forest and everything that was born lives in the forest. What’s magical about it is that there, in the forest, you can create a story and you can thrive because there’s medicine and mystery and love and all kinds of music in the forest!
[If I were to choose a specific woodland creature,] I choose butterflies because they can go back and forth and back and forth, like recreating themselves, between forms.
- What would we find you doing when not you’re not volunteering at 826?
[There’s] a lot! Writing all kinds of stuff!
I breathe and live in the 12 steps community. Sometimes I set my day just to give love.
I’m in Ghana every year participating in a Spoken Word poetry collaboration/organization. I tutor and mentor young ladies and I have an organization called Ohemaa, which is an entrepreneurial program that unites people born in the United States of African Descent and people born in Africa together through art for entrepreneurial purposes.
- What is a piece of advice you would give a new 826 volunteer?
To be the learner. To listen.
Thanks to Makeda for her commitment to YABP, and her wonderful and wise advice. To put this advice into practice, join us for one of our upcoming tutor training sessions, details of which you can find on our events page.