Learn more about our second spotlight of National Volunteer Month, Mugisha Bwenge.
Many agencies rely on the support of volunteers for their tireless dedication and unbeatable skills. This month we are highlighting a few volunteers who are making a difference in our community every day.
Today’s volunteer spotlight is Mugisha Bwenge, who has dedicated nearly every aspect of his life to helping others.
“I remember telling one of my professor’s that if I can be that one percent that takes the time to help someone, that’s what I want to do,” said Mugisha. “Then even after nursing school, I saw the opportunity to apply that beyond my job.”
If he’s not working as an LPN, Mugisha is likely volunteering with one of many organizations in the community. This most recent tax season he was a greeter for United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, but he also volunteers with Salvation Army, His Hands Free Clinic, and works with his own nonprofit startup, United We March Forward.
United We March Forward helps immigrants in our community find ways to better integrate into society through a resource directory, case management, and workshops. Having moved to Cedar Rapids from Tanzania at age nine, Mugisha is a valuable (and bilingual!) resource striving to make a difference.
“We’re trying to bridge both the language and cultural gaps in our community,” said Mugisha. “With these barriers, it’s hard for both the immigrants and other members of our community to understand and trust one another. We’re working to build a better understanding between the two.”
When asked about his favorite part about being a volunteer, Mugisha said, “Seeing how I can make a difference. I love helping people find the right support in a situation they feel is difficult and seeing them realize they don’t have to go through it alone.”
Even as a devoted volunteer, Mugisha can relate to the hesitation some people have when it comes to volunteering.
“When I first signed up for VITA, I was nervous,” he said. “When you start somewhere new, you’re not sure what to expect and it can be a bit overwhelming. Once you’re past the intro and can truly help someone feel supported, it’s exciting! You may even realize you’re capable of doing more.”
When it comes down to it, though, his advice for getting involved in the community is to “just go for it.”
“For me, [volunteering] is becoming a better person. If my time is capable of helping someone else, then I’m going to I give my time.”