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Spotlight on AmeriCorps: Bryan Bolsters Volunteerism at Inland Empire United Way

March 17, 2012

Growing up in Ontario, AmeriCorps VIP Leader Bryan Nakawaki had no idea how many different parts of the Inland Empire his life’s trajectory would bring him to. Yet as time went on, Bryan found himself traveling all over the I.E. “I went to high school in Chino, college in Pomona, volunteered in Montclair, I work in Rancho Cucamonga – I’ve pretty much visited all over the Inland Empire” says Nakawaki. “And during all this time, the I.E. has treated me amazingly!”

Bryan and "Team United Way" take a picture after beautifying Mission Elementary School in Ontario, CA.

Such great treatment has left a lasting impression on Bryan and was a key factor in his decision to give back to the Inland Empire through AmeriCorps. “I have always loved and appreciated my time in the Inland Empire, but I also know there is a huge amount of need in a ton of local communities,” Bryan says. “So when I got out of college, I started looking for ways to give back.”

Today, Bryan serves as AmeriCorps VIP Leader at Inland Empire United Way (IEUW) in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, where the combination of his knowledge of the I.E. and his desire to give back serves him well as a part HandsOn Inland Empire—the volunteerism department of IEUW. At IEUW, Bryan coordinates the Volunteer Leader program, in which individuals from the surrounding community partner with local non-profits to lead ongoing volunteer projects. “Meeting dedicated volunteers who are so enthusiastic about making a difference in the community is amazing,” says Bryan. “It’s easily the best part of what I do on a weekly basis through AmeriCorps and IEUW.”

On their end, Inland Empire United Way is thrilled to have Bryan working with them. “AmeriCorps VIP Leader Bryan Nakawaki has played a key role in reviving our Volunteer Leader program,” says Director of Volunteerism Allan Collins. “Bryan actively recruits and trains volunteers from our community who are interested in taking a leadership role in service. He also frequently contributes to our Volunteer Blog and has become quite skilled at writing press releases. We are grateful and appreciative of Bryan’s work and contribution to our program and our community.”

Members of Inland Empire United Way, including Bryan, pose with dozens of UPS volunteers at a park renovation event in Redlands.

When asked what he would say to someone who was interested in joining AmeriCorps, Bryan offers strong encouragement while also acknowledging the challenges that come with a year of service. “AmeriCorps is a great way to learn about community needs and how you can get involved to help meet those needs. It can definitely be challenging to see members of your community in need of food, or housing, but at the same time experiences like those can really remind you why you joined AmeriCorps in the first place.”

“Joining AmeriCorps allows you to help those in need while building a stronger community. Everyone involved with AmeriCorps wins, so I hope as time passes more people consider joining and helping their own communities.”

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