Volunteer Spotlight: Donna Dunagan

Donna has been a College Town Tutor since August 2020.

What do you do outside of your time at Reality Changers?

Outside of Reality Changers, I play and teach piano, belong to 2 book clubs, volunteer with women who have been trafficked, enjoy working in my garden, and love to camp in our 5th wheel.

What makes your volunteer experience at Reality Changers a meaningful use of your time?

As the pandemic ramped up last summer, I was concerned about all the students not having an in person school experience. My heart was especially drawn to those who might not have the resources of people or place around them to get them through. I found Reality Changers through a friend who is a professor at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Tell us about a time that was especially meaningful or a memorable moment for you as a Reality Changers volunteer.

There is no greater honor than having a student trust me enough to tell me their story. When I hear about the ways students have overcome such difficult circumstances, it gives me even more reason to continue to do what I do. It also gives me hope for the future of all of us!

What is one idea, opportunity, or challenge that you are currently focused on in your role as a volunteer?

I’m looking forward to tutoring in person so that an even greater sense of community can be formed with the students and fellow tutors.

If you could encourage someone else to volunteer at our organization, what would you say?

Many of my friends said that they couldn’t do what I am doing because they are not smart enough. I explain to them that the information from the student’s teachers is a big help, and also how great the community of tutors are–they will always step in and help. I tell them that many times the student just needs to talk out what they’re doing with someone who will listen. It’s not as scary as they think!

Another big plus is the encouragement and support from Jose, the 9th grade Achievement Coach. I have been so impressed since day one by the depth of passion of the staff. Katie, the Volunteer Coordinator, continues to expand my mind by providing educational resources and relevant mini-courses for the tutors. The inclusiveness of everyone involved radiates naturally and is a model for how the world should be!

What’s one lesson you have learned while at Reality Changers?

The one lesson I have learned at Reality Changers is that I do have something to offer even though it has been years since I was in high school! The students have been so appreciative and have not acted at all like I was too old to understand them.


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