John-Michael Dyer

Major: International Relations
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Class: Sophomore
Program Position: Group Leader | CAVE’s Chico Homeless Ambassadors

How did you first get connected with Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE)?
I had a service experience with the homeless in high school and when I heard a CAVE class talk about the program, that compelled me to apply. I volunteered at the Jesus Center my first semester, and then at the Torres Shelter my second semester. I saw some potential for improvement in the program, so I applied to be a group leader.

How would you describe your current position with CAVE?
As one of three group leaders, I oversee a group of eight volunteers. The program has a total of 23 volunteers. I facilitate their placement at both sites and I coordinate their hours. I check with the volunteers on what they like and don’t like about their experience so I can assess the program and make improvements. I recently coordinated a root beer float fund raiser and all the money raised went toward buying supplies to make hygiene packets for the clients.

What does working in the Chico Homeless Ambassadors program do for you personally, professionally, or academically?
CAVE allows me to channel my passion for volunteering and helping people. It exposes me to a diversity of thought and culture through its 15 different programs. I’m growing and getting to see the impact I have on people. My involvement is improving my communication skills, changing how I think and feel, and it’s teaching me patience. CAVE affects you 360 degrees. It gives as much as you are willing to take. Specifically with my program, I’ve learned that the stereotype of the homeless person is not true. Many people are going through a temporary rough patch, and the Torres Shelter gives them a step up by providing shelter and services for up to 180 days while they get back on their feet.

What do YOU bring to the table in your position as a group leader at CAVE?
Spending two semesters as a volunteer gave me a good background about the program. That plus my passion, creativity, and initiative are helping me to set the bar for the program. I have a strong work ethic as well. I hope someone will come in after me and raise the bar even higher. Constantly raising the bar is beneficial to the program and its clients.

What are your career plans and how does your job with CAVEĀ better prepare you for that path?
I hope to work overseas in the non-profit sector. My current plan is to study abroad in France my junior year and learn the language. Then I’d like to apply for the Peace Corps and maybe get placed in Africa. Last summer I worked in South Africa with the International Student Volunteers doing community development. It was a great interactive experience. I’ve honed in on the direction I’d like to go, but I’m open to all the possibilities.