Participant Story: Damilola Onakomaiya

 

“PULSE has helped me reexamine my notion of nonprofit work and the different ways it intersects with community life and its role transforming a city and creating cross cultural connections.” – Damilola Onakomaiya

 

Damilola Onakomaiya grew up in Ibadan, Nigeria, and attended the College of Wooster where she earned a degree in Philosophy. She served as a trip leader in 2016 for a service trip in West Virginia and also earned an award for Distinguished Achievement in Biology in 2014 at Green Mountain College. In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and meditation. She is serving at East Liberty Development, Inc.

Lucas Driediger: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Damilola Onakomaiya: I really like my nonprofit partnership. It is a good mix of office work and field exploration. I get to visit abandon properties and be part of the process that brainstorms best uses for the properties to create stable mixed-income neighborhoods.

Lucas: How has PULSE inspired you to think/act/live differently?

Damilola: PULSE has helped me reexamine my notion of nonprofit work and the different ways it intersects with community life and its role transforming a city and creating cross cultural connections.

Lucas: What are you learning about yourself through PULSE?

Damilola: I’m learning that I really enjoy learning about city planning, the court system, and real estate. These are areas I didn’t know too much about before PULSE.

Lucas: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Damilola: This. Laughing with strangers.

Lucas: Whathas suprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Damilola: I really didn’t know Pittsburgh before I got here. It’s a really special city, I think. I remember towards the end of our orientation week we took a boat ride around the three rivers and learned about the history of the city. Pittsburgh is a wonderful mix of old and new in a way I haven’t quite experienced in the U.S. It has this postindustrial creativity that I’ve become slightly fascinated with, like the way you feel when you walk around Carrie Furnace. It’s a really cool scene here.

Story by PULSE Participant Lucas Driediger.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Kayla Clark

 

“I’ve been able to meet some incredible people.” – Kayla Clark

 

 

Kayla Clark, originally from Los Angeles, California, graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a degree in Biology. During her time at Davidson, Kayla spent her time working with nonprofits across the southeastern United States and expanded her knowledge of different environmental issues as a Sustainability Scholar. She also became an active participant and supporter of causes relating to environmental justice. Kayla looks forward to being in a new city and being able to connect with a new community of people working for social change. In her free time, she enjoys baking, crafting, volunteering with children, walking around, and exploring the city. She is serving at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh alongside Sean Mann.

Dave Harris: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership. 

Kayla Clark: Almost everyone is incredible. The fact that one of my coworkers has been working here since he graduated college. The people are committed to helping the community.

Dave: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Kayla: Honestly, the nights that aren’t fully planned where we end up at random places, especially when they’re free! We went to the downtown art crawl. Equiana took us on a tour of Wiggle Whiskey, where she is currently a tour guide. Everything was free, and we even got to make our own whiskey.

Dave: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Kayla: I’ve been able to meet some incredible people.

Dave: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Kayla: There are actual things to do in Pittsburgh for people our age, especially in the neighborhood where I live. I’ve gone to so many arts events, and people are surprisingly friendly.

Dave: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Kayla: Hannah made this honey garlic shrimp in a stir fry and it was delicious. It it was actually SEASONED WELL! She was working her magic and it was good.

Story by PULSE Participant Dave Harris.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Joel Norman

 

“My nonprofit partnership has been the most valuable part because it has taught me about how I best function in the workplace and about what kinds of people and what styles of work I like to do.” – Joel Norman

 

Grand Rapids native Joel Norman attended Calvin College, where he attained a Philosophy major and Biochemistry minor. While in school, he was involved as choir president with a capella, played on the Ultimate Frisbee team, and served with the Campus Ministries. He also worked as a scholars program volunteer at the library, tutoring and mentoring elementary school kids. Outside of school, Joel interned with North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, leading youth retreats and facilitating young adult activities through the church. His other community service experiences include volunteering with the YMCA as a food service worker and acting as a personal care assistant to Clark at Home‘s elderly residents. In his free time, Joel likes to play frisbee, read the news, and run. He is serving at Manchester Academic Charter School.

Ivy Keen: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Joel Norman: My nonprofit partnership has been the most valuable part because it has taught me about how I best function in the workplace and about what kinds of people and what styles of work I like to do.

Ivy: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Joel: In my nonprofit partnership, I serve as a teacher’s aid at a local charter school. I assist the teacher with grading, and I am another adult presence in the classroom. I also help with re-focusing children who are in need of a little extra help.

I enjoy working with second graders. I like learning their names, watching them, being with them regularly, and working towards building long-term relationships with them.

Ivy: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Joel: PULSE has put me in the middle of a neighborhood in ways I haven’t cared about before. Now I’m looking at my neighbors and looking at where I live as a person who has a moral conviction to contribute to the community at large. Because of this realization, I have found a sense of purpose in participating and volunteering with the local Northside citizens council.

Ivy: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Joel: I had a nice Sunday morning where I walked down to my church, Allegheny Center Alliance. From there, I took a long walk to a restaurant on 6th Street, got a falafel sandwich, and then caught the bus back.  No one was out in the streets. It was peaceful, and it was altogether quite boring.  But, it was calm and nice. It was a great way to just “be” in the city, and it is something you only do once you’ve lived in a place for a while.

Ivy: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Joel: I love when we make tofu stir-fry because I get to chop all of the vegetables (which I enjoy doing!). Falafel is also a close second!

Story by PULSE Participant Ivy Keen.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Dave Harris

 

“It was a surprise to live in a house with people from so many different backgrounds. It is comforting to know that there are people who care for each other and can support me in my PULSE experience. ” – Dave Harris

 

A graduate of Yale University, Dave Harris studied theater with a concentration in Playwriting and African American Performance. Four of his plays were produced during his time at Yale; White History was a UMASS Play Lab Finalist, The Promised Land was presented by Yale School of Drama actors at the Annual Festival of New Work, and  Exception to the Rule won the 2015 Yale Playwrights Festival. In addition to his playwriting, Dave was the president of WORD, Yale’s Slam Poetry Team, and was an Artist in Residence at New Haven Arts & Humanities Co-op from 2014 to 2015. He became the youngest winner of the Rustbelt National Poetry Slam in 2015. He enjoys chocolate chip cookies, dancing salsa and blues, and writing anything and everything. He is placed at the Alumni Theater Company.

Kayla Clark: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Dave Harris: The arts community in Pittsburgh has been one of the most welcoming communities I have found in a city, especially as a newcomer. It has allowed me to develop new material in a supportive environment.

Kayla: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Dave: In order for you to do anything you want in the arts world you have to have your own creative control. In some sectors of the art world there are still communities that have not embraced the beauty that comes with including diverse perspectives. So it is hard to find people who want to make the arts more inclusive.

Kayla: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Dave: It was a surprise to live in a house with people from so many different backgrounds. It is comforting to know that there are people who care for each other and can support me in my PULSE experience. It has been an incredible experience interacting with people I can bond and relate to.

Kayla: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Dave: My favorite family meal has been Damilola’s chicken pot pie. It was a comfort food classic that was seasoned and tasted great.

Kayla: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Dave: The best part is the stability that comes with not having to worry about rent and other finances. This allows me to get involved in activities where I can develop and create art. It allows me to get involved within the Pittsburgh community without having to focus on doing things for money.  I can get involved in activities because I want to and not because I have to.

Story by PULSE Participant Kayla Clark.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Lucas Driediger

 

“I’ve enjoyed the connection to different nonprofits and networks throughout Pittsburgh, the opportunity to learn about a variety of fields and interest areas through the other PULSE fellows.” – Lucas Driediger

 

Lucas Driediger comes to Pittsburgh by way of Hamilton, Ontario. Lucas received his degree in Peace-building and Development from Eastern Mennonite University. He served as an assistant with L’Arche Hamilton and did his practicum with Creciendo Juntos, a community development NGO in Bogotá, Colombia. In his downtime, he enjoys reading, writing songs, and playing soccer. He is serving at the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization.

Damilola Onakomaiya: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Lucas Driediger: I’ve enjoyed the connection to different nonprofits and networks throughout Pittsburgh, the opportunity to learn about a variety of fields and interest areas through the other PULSE fellows. I have also liked how there is almost always something to do when you are a part of a group this large.

Damilola: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Lucas: I enjoy having the leeway to work on some of my own projects in the community development field and the way that my nonprofit is based in community engagement and involvement. I love how my nonprofit partnership,  the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, is new and forming an identity within the revitalization efforts of the town.

Damilola: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Lucas: PULSE has inspired me to love my housemates as people. It has also got me interested in real estate and its complexities.

Damilola: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Lucas: I have the spirit of an adventurer and I want to experience as much of life as possible by traveling to new cities.

Damilola: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Lucas: I like to make a one-skillet sweet potato hash with rice and chorizo sausage and red pepper.

Story by PULSE Participant Damilola Onakomaiya.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

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