Volunteer Spotlight: Samantha Mark

Samantha_Mark_Profile_Photo_3822_5x7_300_dpi.jpgToday we are featuring one of our own very special Volunteers at Kid City. Our Volunteers make a difference in the lives of many students through their dedicated service assisted by: one on one mentorship, building relationships within the community, providing emotional support, and by forming strong support systems.  The countless hours spent working with each student and preparing them for the next step in life in their home away from home environment creates a unique bond between all of us at Kid City.  In essence, at Kid City we are "family" and “familia”. 

Samantha is in our volunteer spotlight today!

Hello Samantha!  Thank you for sharing your time with us today.  I see that you’ve been volunteering here for quite some time.  

Yes, thank you for choosing me to be in the spotlight!

Can you please tell us about your background (work/ education/ hobbies, etc. whatever you’d like to share)?

I went to high school in Montebello and graduated back in 2008 (from the same school Laura went to)!   I graduated from UC Irvine with a BS in Chemistry.  My first job was at the convenience store on campus as a cashier and I moved up the ladder for the next few years until I left that job as a full-time Location Supervisor.  I became very interested in personal savings and retirement and saved a lot of money while working so that I would have the freedom to pursue my passion in finance.  After working a couple of years in retail part-time, I finally got the call for the opportunity of a lifetime.  I was invited to interview for New York Life Southern California, the #1 producing office within the entire West Coast, and I’m proud to say I’ve been happily employed ever since!  When I’m not working, I play and perform taiko (Japanese drums), I enjoy the arts and music, and hanging out with my friends and having a good time.

How did you hear about the volunteer opportunities at Kid City?

I was part of a networking group and found a post in the home feed about an organization needing help.  I contacted Laura with the intention of helping with personal statements virtually, but after speaking with her and finding out zero people volunteered to show up in person, I told her I would make sure I was there because I saw the value in-person interactions having been a tutor in high school.

What activities do you assist with at Kid City?

I started off with personal statements, but due to my schedule, began helping with last year’s Conference and continued with the trend for this year.

What inspired you to start volunteering?

I’ve always had the philanthropy bug since I was young and I learned it from my mom.  I grew up participating in a couple of AIDS walks in high school and have done the City of Hope Walk 4 Hope on and off for the past decade.  I was always raised to give back and have always been surrounded by giving people.  I started off in 2nd grade helping my peers with reading and writing, 3rd grade I would teach origami in the back of the classroom, and on through high school I would show up at the library a couple days a week to help kids with their math homework.  Now, I get to run my own financial practice that gives me the freedom to participate in sponsorship opportunities, provide complimentary services for the community, and really just share my passion of financial education!

What do you enjoy most about (whatever volunteer activity you do) students at Kid City?

I absolutely love Kid City and everything that it stands for.  All of the kids and alumni are amazing individuals with so much talent and potential.  I see so many future leaders and people who are one day going to change the world we live in.  If there is anything I can do to help them realize how special they are, I will take that opportunity!  The staff is great, too! 

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the rest of us?

Once you find that thing that sparks passion within you, run after it and get it.  If it takes you a while to find it, don’t be discouraged and embrace every opportunity that is presented to you until you do.  Filter out all of that noise telling you that your dreams are impossible and pave the way to show them what they couldn’t previously see.

Thank you Samantha! We are so grateful for your contributions to our community!