Featured Volunteer: Rigo Mendiola


“I was born in Texas and am from a family of 10 brothers and sisters. I moved to California in my sophomore year of high school and attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City. A few years after I graduated, I went into the Army and was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. When I got out of the army, I attended Canada College where I got my Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration. I then started my career as a sales representative for an office supply company. I got married and had a daughter, who is now grown and married with a nine year-old son of her own. I was fortunate enough to be able to retire about ten years ago and moved to Half Moon Bay because I’d always wanted to live on the coast. It’s a treat to be closer to the water because fishing and taking walks by the beach are two of the things I enjoy most.

Some people told me I would be bored when I retired. As it turns out, I keep myself pretty busy. I was volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank and helping out with their Brown Bag program for seniors when someone told me about Coastside Hope. She knew they needed some extra help with their citizenship classes and thought I would be a great fit, especially because I spoke Spanish.

I’ve been helping to teach Spanish speakers citizenship classes for about two and half years now. I teach every Wednesday night for two and half hours. It takes courage for the students to attend classes; learning a new language and all the required questions can be very intimidating. The students are committed to attending and trying hard, and I’m committed to making them feel comfortable and making sure they have the help they need. Volunteering makes me feel good because the students are so grateful and so respectful; they really want to learn and to pass their test. It’s very rewarding to see their confidence grow and their pride in their achievements. One of the things I’ve learned to do is to delegate some of the work to the more advanced students. It gives them a chance to practice and keeps them engaged in the class. It also shows the other students that, if they work hard, they’ll learn as much and be able to help others too. I try to keep the class fun and to encourage the students as much as I can. They’ve come to trust me and to believe in them. The staff at Coastside hope has been very supportive of me as a volunteer and I enjoy my time there very much.”

-Rigo Mendiola

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