Volunteer Spotlight: Kenny Oden
Kenny Oden is a native Angeleno and social entrepreneur, who for the past six months has brought his experience and passion to our Home For Good Companionship Program, which connects newly housed individuals to volunteers for the support they need to successfully make this transition.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I graduated from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. degree in Educational Leadership and Policy. For the past 10 years I have mentored youth encouraging and assisting them to create and reach their goals. In addition, I am a business owner of a motivational clothing called 2wenty5eight, which encourages everyone to maximize their time and space to make an impact in the world, “finding the extra hour, creating the extra day.”
What made you join the Companionship Program?
I joined the companionship program because I wanted to challenge myself to do something outside of my comfort zone. With the aid of a partner who knew about the program suggested it would be the challenge I looked for, which turned out to be correct.
How was your experience in the program?
It has been an eye-opening challenge and learning experience of growth for me. A challenge that I experienced is connecting with my partner and having a great time and then the disappearing effect that disrupted our communication pattern for some time. Once this happen it almost felt like the momentum of the relationship was ceased and had to be recreated and engaged on my end which was a bit odd but did not deter me.
Has the program impacted your views on homelessness?
The program has impacted my views on homelessness by providing me with a lens beyond the surface. I thought homelessness had a distinct look and behavior, while in cases this is true, my experience was the opposite exposing me to the multiple complexities of homelessness the challenges systematically and individually by those that experience it. For this experience I am forever grateful to have learned more about homelessness.
Based on your experience what are some of your thoughts on building relationships and connections with one another?
Building relationships requires one to be genuine kind and reasonable. To effectively build relationships one must seek to listen first before speaking. The ability to deal with the social highs and lows of the human experience should be expected. There is no formal blueprint for the experience besides desire to treat others the way they would like to be treated. And if all is done there still may be a chance for slim success, but the experience is still rewarding.