ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Who I Am Foundation is working to connect those in need in the community with resources to help them create a positive future for themselves. The nonprofit was created in 2012 in Albuquerque. It was originally an anti-bullying program but through feedback from the community, it grew into the many different outreach programs they have today.

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From youth and elderly outreach to tutoring and employment preparation, Who I Am strives to help community members build a healthy, self-sufficient life. That’s what remains at the heart of the organization, listening to what the community needs and finding ways to meet those needs.

One of those outreach programs provides a way for volunteers to hear directly from the community during their Essential Necessity Distributions. Volunteers gather and distribute care packages with hygiene products, clothing, furniture, and more to low-income families and those facing homelessness.

They’ve also partnered with other organizations and businesses at certain events to give away free haircuts, dental examinations, and pet vaccinations.

Corey Pierre, executive director of the Albuquerque sector, said their volunteers are the ones who make these events happen, whether by collecting donations from the community or helping at events. “All of our ideas come from our volunteers. Some of the outreach programs, the veteran’s outreach program, the behavioral health outreach, these are all volunteers’ ideas that we helped come to fruition,” Pierre said.

Event Coordinator Myriah Herrera said both she and Pierre work full-time jobs in addition to working with the organization, so they wanted to create volunteer opportunities that would be accessible to everyone. “You don’t have to sign up to do anything permanently. You can come out once a week, once a month, whatever the case may be. It’s nothing that you are locked into unless you decide you want to be part of the planning committee,” Herrera said.

They have three stages of volunteering, the planning committee that plans outreach events, distribution volunteers, and “behind the scenes” volunteers who secure donations, coordinate donation pickups, or recruit volunteers. “We just want to create the change that you want to see in the community,” Pierre said.

Oftentimes at events, volunteers are able to provide exactly what community members are in need of because they’re able to ask them what they need. “It’s hard to explain because if you’re there, you can see the emotions on people’s faces,” Herrera said. “We’ll make homemade soups and beanies and blankets that we’ll take out to them because they feel like humans like they’re normal and deserve to get homemade food.”

For more information, visit the Who I Am Foundation website to learn more.