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AmeriCorps Member: Mandalay Na

To provide continued support for our neighborhoods, United Way is partnering with AmeriCorps to sponsor seven members, currently living within the targeted local communities, to participate in the AmeriCorps program delivered by Amazon.

As part of the AmeriCorps Program supporting United Neighborhoods, the AmeriCorps members will lead engagement activities within their neighborhoods to increase the residents’ knowledge of the services available to residents. The program is designed to better connect residents with nonprofit services and open doors of opportunity for the AmeriCorps members.

This post highlights AmeriCorps Member Mandalay Na. 

What geography are you working in?

Na: I am working in the Albemarle Rd./Central Ave. corridor.

What is your role within your geography?

Na: My role within the community is as a community coordinator at ourBRIDGE for KIDS.  

Tell me about your background.

Na: I am originally from Thailand and came to North Carolina as a refugee family at the age of 7. I grew up in Charlotte and have been residing in the east Charlotte community ever since I arrived. I went to Merry Oaks Elementary school and then transferred to Our Lady of the Assumption middle school and continued in private school from 6th grade to 9th grade.  After my experience with private school I decided to transfer to a public school where I attended Garinger High School. While attending there I was able to take some college classes to advance my education. I took two gap years of college and worked as a classroom facilitator at ourBRIDGE for Kids afterschool programs. My passion is to work alongside refugee and immigrant families. I have a great interest in engaging and communicating in our diverse community. I love that I am able to connect and relate to some families while also being culturally inclusive of others around me. Right now I am attending CPCC and studying to be an administrative accountant. 

Why did you apply to be an AmeriCorps Community Coordinator?

Na: My passion and interest are what influenced my application to be an AmeriCorps member. Serving the community and supporting families with resources has always been part of my life and that is something I want to continue with in my journey.

What are your Community Quarterback’s goals for your geography? How do those goals translate into your day-to-day tasks?

Na: The Community Quarterback’s (ourBRIDGE for KIDS) goal for the geography is for residents to have equitable access to healthcare and quality education as well as overall economic stability. ourBRIDGE for KIDS’s approach is to welcome and support newcomers in a trauma-informed, culturally-responsive way. ourBRIDGE for KIDS’s main focus is providing after-school programming and family support; their services consist of helping with translations and providing materials to families in their first language, supporting students in CMS by connecting them to resources and helping families navigate the school system. ourBRIDGE also partners with like-minded organizations to provide high-quality services in the area, like their collaboration with Amity Medical to help families get vaccines, check-ups and more. Another way the organization supports the community is through emergency funds, which ourBRIDGE for KIDS has provided to residents who were at risk of eviction, ensuring they stayed in their homes in our community. 

This work translates into my day-to-day tasks when I am engaging with residents to increase their knowledge of various place-based organizations and what services are available to them. Some ways that we engage with families are through resources workshops, home visits or phone calls, always making sure we connect at a time that best works for them. I am also involved in the emergency funds distribution and communication efforts.

What are you learning about in your geography that you didn’t know before?

Na: There are lots of behind-the-scenes moments that go on to put out the resources that are available to our communities. I live in this geography and have worked here before, so I thought there was not much I wouldn’t know. But by engaging with many agencies and the communities, I have learned that there are many resources available to the community and many supports that come with those resources. For example, during events, there is hands-on support that would assist and provide translations to families. 

Learn more about the AmeriCorps Program supporting United Neighborhoods.