Volunteer Spotlight: Dennis Ibude

Volunteers are the backbone of Avenues for Justice’s (AFJ) programming. Since the onset of the pandemic last year, the number of volunteers at AFJ has grown from 20 volunteers to close to 60 volunteers. Our volunteers provide tutoring and mentoring services, and lead a variety of workshops from financial literacy to healthy eating to creative writing at our two community centers on an online and onsite hybrid platform.

Today, we are highlighting one of our dynamic volunteers: Dennis Ibude. Dennis, a high school teacher in Brooklyn, has taught Teen Empowerment Daily (T.E.D.) for two years at Avenues for Justice.

Teen Empowerment has been a longtime favorite workshop for AFJ participants and staff alike. Teen Empowerment Daily was born out of a desire to provide middle school and high school aged students the opportunity to have a greater voice outside of the traditional classroom setting. Developed with his partner, Fatima Kassim, T.E.D. in its basic form is an open forum discussion that Dennis turns into a recorded podcast. In addition to podcasting, Dennis also works with individual participants to connect them with the resources that they might need, such as college and SAT prep, college and job application assistance, and material on how to navigate through college and admission tours and interviews. 

Each week, Dennis engages our participants with thoughtful topics of interest and lets the participants steer the conversation. He then produces a recording of the conversation for AFJ participants to take home and listen to. The goal is for our participants to feel empowered by their own voices and formulate opinions on topics dealing with healthy lifestyle choices or how to maintain positive friendships.

Dennis wanted to work with AFJ and our participants because he believes that young people should not be defined by their worst mistake, but rather they should have the opportunity to have a second chance or a third chance. Dennis shared that participants “should be given a chance to reflect and start making a path to want to do better. They all want to do better. Are you patient with them? Do you understand where they’re coming from? Do you understand the reason why they made those choices? Because they're not bad kids at all and society, because of the mistakes they made, has labeled them as that.”

One of Dennis’ favorite classes to date was a recent conversation on community activism. During the workshop, participants discussed how to make changes in their neighborhoods by increasing community resources through the placement of community fridges to address food insecurity, adding libraries and more community clinics. Dennis beams with pride at how “every time I teach a class at Avenues for Justice, it’s a blessing, it’s a different energy than the classroom.”

Dennis is excited to teach new T.E.D. classes in the winter!

AFJ’s fall programming, filled with new workshops and classes led by our network of volunteers, will be start back up next week! If you want to learn more about volunteering please email Samantha Fikilini, Program and Activities Coordinator  at sfikilini@avenuesforjustice.org.