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Volunteer Profile: Dave Boeckel

Pear - Creatively Mentoring Homeless Youth

Meet current volunteer and board member Dave Boeckel CEO of William Henry  who has been helping out a p:ear every Friday since 2015.

How did you find out about p:ear? I had been looking at different opportunities to volunteer for over a year and I had interviewed a bunch of organizations and while many were doing good work none of them felt right for me. I met Pippa at a dinner party learned a little about p:ear. I then met with her again to learn more about p:ear and what volunteering there looked like. I liked what I heard about the approach, structure and goals and Pippa invited me to come spend Christmas Day at p:ear. So I did. It was an amazing experience at many levels and I was hooked.

What’s a memorable p:ear experience? My very first day on the floor Will had me sit down with one of the youth to play Connect 4. My thought was that I would win some and throw some games so that the youth did not feel too bad. I promptly lost 10 games in a row.  This made me throw out many of my preconceptions right then and there. I was humbled, I was bothered by my own prejudices and I was determined to get better at Connect 4. I went home and practiced for 2 weeks. Next time we played I won 2 games (and lost 8).

I also remember a day when one of the youth was upset about the racism in Portland. I was prepping breakfast and he loudly added me to the list of people who were racist. I explained that my late wife was brown and my step family is black. This led to a pretty open discussion of his and my perceptions of racial prejudice (including my own prejudices) in Portland and where we each grew up. This gave me a different perspective and one that continues to help me better (though far from completely) understand what it was like for him and for other young men of color in Portland.

Why p:ear? p:ear is important for a vast number of reasons, but I think what I find most remarkable about it is the ability to give each youth what they need at any given moment. Perhaps not perfectly, but better than any place else I can imagine. This can’t be put on a chart or measured in numbers, there are no obvious metrics, but the ability to reach each youth as an individual is invaluable.

Learn more about volunteering at p:ear and fill out the application for an upcoming volunteer training.