|Megan Bowling & Darci Meiners|
While all the Xavier students we have worked with through the years have been fabulous, this month’s featured story focuses on two students that I would term the ultimate Dynamic Duo. Megan Bowling and Darci Meiners joined our FwP team last year when they volunteered as mentors for our ZooMates program. Last summer, Megan continued her work with us as a teaching assistant with our Yellow Bus Summer Camp.
To my complete joy and excitement, they approached me this fall and stated they wanted to continue their work with FwP by taking on more of a leadership role in this year’s ZooMates program. Their passion, creativity and dedication to this year’s mentoring program is evident each week as they work to provide support for the 2013-14 ZooMates mentors, create fun campus encounters for our mentees and host our Xavier ZooMatesFacebook page. Such efforts are truly making this year’s program our best year ever!
We asked our dynamic duo some questions about their experience so far with ZooMates and Faces without Places, and their answers were both inspirational and eloquent.
What do you enjoy about what FwP does? Why do you think it is important?
Megan – I love that FwP is actively trying to change the way people view homelessness, and raise awareness that Cincinnati has a homeless population that needs help, and the children especially need extra assistance. I think it's important to get this information out to everyone because I want to see these kids at a disadvantage rise above their unfortunate situations and be able to follow their dreams and see a bright future ahead of them.
Darci - I like the mission of Faces without Places as it aligns a lot with how I approach education. Through my career choice as an educator, I want to make sure that children, no matter their age, family life, past, whatever, are given every opportunity to succeed. They have huge aspirations for themselves; all we need to do is give them the means to get there.
What is a moment that has made you proud to volunteer with/support FwP?
Megan - Over the summer, seeing the kids day after day change and mature right in front of me was mind-blowing. Kids opened up to me and changed my life, which I was not expecting. You come into a program like this thinking you are going to change and influence the kids' lives, but they tend to change yours as well. They have taught me to love deeper, be patient, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Darci - I am frequently proud to volunteer with Faces without Places. Getting the opportunity to work with such passionate people as Shelley, Greta, and Megan, all of whom are willing to do anything for these awesome kids, is really uplifting. The mentors, as well, truly care about their mentees. It is really refreshing to work with other people that see the value in young people as well as education. I was especially proud when the ZooMates came to Xavier in November and did chemistry experiments with my chemistry professor, Dr. Mullins. They were very curious and asked oodles of questions. I was happy to see my love for science wear off on them just a little.
What do you look forward to in your future with FwP?
Megan - I look forward to continue volunteering with the program as much as I can although I will be graduating from Xavier next year. I hope to always be a part of the FwP family, and see the non-profit gain more recognition and change society one little step at a time!
Darci - I hope that people continue to see the value in the ZooMates program that I have fallen in love with over the past year. I would like to continue to foster that relationship as well as spread the word to other college students that mentoring is an amazing, worthwhile thing to do. Working with ZooMates through FwP is a fun opportunity to impact the lives of grade school students who are from all different backgrounds but who are all in need of positive people in their lives. They don’t ask for much, simply someone to talk to, explore the Cincinnati Zoo with them occasionally, and just have a good time. I look forward to the bright futures of these amazing students. I would love for ZooMates to have had such an impact on them so as for them to want to mentor when they are older thanks to a positive experience through ZooMates.
As you can see, these two young women are insightful, caring and enthusiastic. We are so thankful to have them with us and look forward to their continued growth as they find their own future successes and continue to help children and adults realize their potential in both academics and in helping others.
Thanks for reading,
Program & Outreach Manager.