The OCP Blog

Featured Volunteer of the Month: Symonè Bolden

“You are a person worthy of love. You don’t have to do anything to prove that. You do not have to earn love. You simply have to exist. We are worthy whether or not we accomplish anything.” – Sharon Salzberg

Like many #OCPeople, featured volunteer of the month Symonè Bolden has shown an extraordinary spirit of volunteerism amidst life’s difficulties. Born in Fredericksburg, VA into a military family, Mademoiselle Bolden is the second of three children, with an older sister and a younger brother. Her father served as a Marine in the Gulf War. Her mother worked her way to become a full-time bus driver. Symonè remembers feeling an absence of love at home. Her biological father left when she was a year old, leaving her single mom with three children. “At my house growing up, walls were cold, the energy was always low, and fear was the main feeling,” Symonè Bolden recalls.

It’s not every day that you meet an individual whose curiosity, resilience and joyful, loving gentleness shine despite their traumatic experiences. “It is not easy to keep it together when everything around you is turning into disarray,” Mademoiselle Bolden says, recollecting resisting her older sister’s peer pressuring her into substance abuse, not having adult role models, not finding stability, safety, love or belonging in her own home. Our featured volunteer of the month decided to leave home in 2014 and found refuge in the Salvation Army, one of Harrisonburg’s homeless shelters. “This period of my life was tough, since I was living in a shelter and taking college courses at Blue Ridge Community college,” Mademoiselle Bolden states. During this period, she also started volunteering at a non-profit organization called Prospect in Mummy’s Tummy International, educating girls and empowering them with sustainable maternal health tool kits.

I asked Mademoiselle Symonè, “what drew you to Our Community Place?” She paused, with a smile on her face. “I heard the food was good, and that most people who go to Our Community Place have gone through many adverse experiences in their lifetime.” Recalling a challenging situation that happened during our Friday Lunch Restaurant program when she was volunteering, we laughed about how joyful it is to feel we have somewhere we belong.  After building a support system, and regardless of the failures that our featured volunteer of the month Symonè Bolden has faced, she expresses gratitude for the relationships she’s developed at Our Community Place. “I am soo excited when I volunteer at Friday Lunch Restaurant,” she states. “It is more than serving and working, it is the beauty that comes from creating a place where people who never thought they could work in groups do it with ease,” she concludes. The Summer Lawn Jam has also always been her favorite time at OCP.

Amidst the hidden treasure that we see daily in the eye of every community member who walks inside the community center, it feels right to focus attention on our featured volunteer of the month, Symonè Bolden.

Leons Kabongo

Programming & Activities Coordinator