Honoree: Chris Nguyen
Honored by: Project MotiVATe
Cause Area: Youth Services
I have had the honor of seeing first hand the personal development and change within Chris. Our program is designed to mentor Vietnamese American youth but I’ve always believed that what you put into the program is what you get out of it. Chris signed on as our board treasurer. Board members have a two-year commitment. The first year, Chris was very quiet and did what the job required him to do; finances, grant writing, and networking on PM’s behalf. It wasn’t until he was able to attend camp the following year that I began to see his love for Project MotiVATe grow. Project MotiVATe has had an annual summer camp with our volunteers and youth since our inception, dating back to 1996. Every night, we play Mafia around the campfire with our mentees. It was the first time I saw Chris really interact with our youth. He had to leave camp early because of a prior commitment but he stayed late into the night playing Mafia with our mentees.
Since then, Chris has gone above and beyond any person I know within Project MotiVATe for the past two years. He has been a mentor for the past year and a half as he continues to serve as a board member. Board members rarely mentor our youth. Chris has taken it upon himself to support wherever needed. He goes out of his way to attend coordinator meetings to ensure that the day to day responsibilities are taken care of. He has helped establish a culture in PM of family and togetherness that has been missing for quite some time. Chris continues to push himself as a mentor. The first year Chris was a mentor, we operated at a 1:1 mentee to mentor ratio. The level of commitment and trust he established with his first mentee was really impressive. Chris went on to be awarded, “Mentor of the Year,” by staff members. This year has been more difficult as we have been short staffed this year. We currently operate at a 2:1 mentee to mentor ratio. Chris has tried to build rapport with every mentee this year as well as help develop our new set of volunteers and mentors. Though Chris is good at taking care of the present day challenges, he recognizes our program’s strengths and weaknesses. With that in mind, he has done his best to create structure for future members of Project MotiVATe to alleviate the learning curve and to ensure the longevity of PM.
Chris has maintained a professional demeanor among staff and the parents we serve. With the mentees, he’s much more casual and loose. The mentees respect Chris and they all see the time and effort he puts into the program. Youth trust those they see more often. He does his best to adapt his mentoring skills to the needs of each individual youth.
As the year progressed, Chris has maintained staying on top of grant deadlines, spending time with mentees, and attending program events. His output of effort doesn’t waver. Chris continues to set the example for mentors, mentees, and board members. I look back on my journey through Project MotiVATe and know it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable nor rewarding without Chris by my side. He has been a tremendous friend and mentor to me. Chris treats me as the person and leader he believes I can and should be. Both, he and I, hope great things for Project MotiVATe. I want Chris to be honored because I believe he is a vessel of all the great things Project MotiVATe represents: family, love, patience, and a place to be yourself, a place to belong. I know Chris’s impact on our program will be felt for years to come.