Understanding, Compassion, And A Passion For Service Inspires Volunteerism

By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern

Twenty-three year old Monica Makia, Program Coordinator, works from her desk. Photo credit: Gabrielle Mills.

PATERSON, N.J. — Monica Makia, Program Coordinator at the Center for United Methodist Aid to the Community (CUMAC) has a passion for service. 

Born and raised in Dar Salaam, Tanzania, the University of Pittsburgh alum moved to the United States at 14 where her family settled in New Jersey and subsequently, Pennsylvania. After high school she studied Biology on a pre-med track. “I always knew that I wanted to help people,” Makia states.

Initially, Makia aspired to becoming a medical doctor. “I thought it was the only way to help people,” she states. Despite her years studying biology, Makia feels her time at CUMAC has opened her up to other avenues of care-based careers.  However, her passion for helping others began at home.

Raised by her mother and grandmother, she says she saw how caring for others was a valuable skill.

“Her love language was food,” Makia states. “It’s ironic that I’m working at a food justice organization.”

It was this support system that allowed her to excel academically in her post graduate studies.  She recognizes the importance of strong role models, especially strong women. “That’s really the foundation of who I am,” Makia says.

She found out about CUMAC through her master’s program at Baylor University. Makia feels this mission and CUMC’s “trauma informed approach” is what drew her to the organization as a college student.  “I knew that I would have to be more open to being vulnerable…coming to CUMAC you recognize that there’s this family,” Makia states.

According to their website, “CUMAC’s mission is to fight hunger and its root causes through a holistic, trauma-informed approach that provides groceries and basic necessities to families and individuals in need.”   

“Here, because of the training we go through, you get to understand and show compassion,” Makia states. “When someone comes in with an attitude, it can really throw you off, and affect the quality of service, but then compassion and grace kick in, it’s not about you, it’s about them.”

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