Puentes at Y.E.S. Volunteering in a Latinx program

This semester I decided to volunteer at Puentes again. This is my second semester volunteering in this program. Puentes is one of the many volunteering programs run by Youth Educational Services at Humboldt State University.
Currently there are 10 active programs that are virtual student led, semester-long programs. Puentes facilitates the needs of the Latinx community by connecting students to resources and volunteer opportunities on and off campus. Their goal is to bridge the cultural gap that exists between Spanish and English speaking communities in Humboldt County.

As a Latina, being involved in Puentes makes me feel that I am doing something important in the Latinx community. I know I am making a difference and being a role model for the Latinx youth I get to work with.

“I hope that my volunteers gain new ways in which they actively help their community in regards to children and the Latinx community here in Humboldt County,” Gisell Carmona, program director at Puentes, said.“As well as take what they’ve gained and use it in their everyday activities as we do, we make sure to have workshops with the volunteers every week that cover important topics such as non-violence and collaborating with the community to name a few.”

When I first found out about Puentes I thought it would be a great opportunity to build friendships in the community. Programs like Puentes are very important in Humboldt County because they help support the small the Latinx community here.

“Being a part of Puentes, I believe, is one of the ways you can get involved with the Hispanic and Latino community,” Carmona said. “Especially in the Humboldt community, I feel like it’s important to reach out to those minority groups
within our community and bring a sense of belonging and support to students in need.”

The other volunteers and I are currently working with Morris Elementary in a pen pal project. Each of us are paired with one student in the class. I really enjoy hearing about these kids’ lives and what they want to be when they grow up. To me it is a great opportunity to share and motivate young Latinx students that they can also make a difference.

“The pen pal exchange is going great,” Melea Smith said, Y.E.S. coordinator.“Letters provide an opportunity for K-12
students to improve communication skills while learning about the college experience.”

I truly feel that this program is a safe space for students like me. As my first language being Spanish and as a first generation college student, my parents were not able to guide me through the process of what it feels to be in college, or what is needed to succeed in college. Through Puentes, I am able to talk about my college experiences with these students and it feels good knowing that I can be a role model for them.

Applicants do not need to be fluent in Spanish in order to volunteer with Puentes. For more information or questions about the program, people can email puentes@humboldt.edu.

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