This week we’re spotlighting one of our awesome Mentor Hope volunteers, Mariah Duran! Mariah has been working with Hope for Kids at Club Hope for almost three years, and has been getting involved with Connect Hope as well! She spends time with many of our middle school-aged girls outside of HFK events: hanging out at Starbucks, bringing them to youth group, and even going rock climbing! Relationship building is such an important part of reaching these kids, and we are so grateful for the way Mariah truly invests herself in their lives.
You can check out our interview with Mariah below!
How did you get involved with Hope for Kids?
I heard about the ministry on the Q99.7!
Can you tell me about the first day you volunteered?
The first day I volunteered I was so nervous! I had signed up for the bus and I felt so unqualified to be involved in these kids’ lives. Another thing I felt was overwhelmed. There was so much happening and I didn’t know what to process.
When did you first start to really click with the kids?
Probably the second or third time. I really debated about not coming back but I wanted to give it another chance and let my emotions dictate. Volunteers don’t generally become comfortable in an instant. It takes time to get to know the kids and to know yourself as a volunteer.
What has been your favorite Hope for Kids story so far?
I hate that question! There are so many stories to choose from. I think my favorite thing about working with Hope for Kids is the faces. Looking around and seeing the faces, remembering moments where you’ve made a difference in their lives, is amazing. One story that stands out is of the first time I reached out to my kids outside of Club Hope and Mentor Hope. I took one of the girls out for her birthday and we just got to hang out, have fun, and get to know each other a little more. At the next Club Hope, she kept constantly talking about how much fun that time had been, almost to the point of making the other girls jealous! She felt so special, and knowing that I had that chance to be an important influence in her life was awesome.
How has God shaped your walk with Him through your time with Hope for Kids?
Ever since being involved with Hope for Kids I’ve been stretched like Laffy Taffy! It’s required me to become really dependent on God for strength–a one-size-fits-all approach really doesn’t work with kids, and I’m always learning. I’ve learned that God has such heart for kids and sensitivity to their tender hearts. He’s teaching me how to be patient, and over time He’s built wisdom and discernment in the way I understand these girls through my interactions with them.
You can ask anyone who knows me: I used to hate kids! Before Hope for Kids, kids were not on my radar. I didn’t really like being around them. But seeing the atmosphere of love and respect that Matt and Erika and the volunteers built for these kids and knowing that this was God’s heart completely transformed me. Now I love kids!
What’s one thing you would want to share with someone who’s new to volunteering?
If I could tell a new volunteer anything, it would be this: you might be scared out of your mind the first day, and that’s okay. Don’t underestimate what God can do through a willing heart to serve Him. You might not see value of the time you spend until years later. God will bless that willingness! He’s blessed me through relationships that have been built with the kids, and a feeling of community and family in the ministry. I’ve been doing this for three years, and I can tell you, it’s worth it!