Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Wendy Nguyen volunteered for a San Francisco non-profit that works with youth in the maximum security units at the San Francisco and San Mateo Juvenile Detention Centers. When she arrived in Los Angeles and learned that IOW worked directly with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth, she was drawn to the cause, as Wendy holds this particular marginalized community in a deep place in her heart.
Wendy has served as a mentor to Alum Quiyona Bridges since November 2011. “My reason for joining the mentoring program was not to tell others what to do or how to live life, but rather to simply be a listening ear and provide emotional support, which are key pillars that I wish I received as a child.” Wendy shares that some of her best outings with Quiyona are in the evenings over dinner when the two of them can relax, unwind and just focus on each other.
Being a mentor was not enough for Wendy. In January, she worked with Dr. Laura Ha of EyeCon Optometry to conduct free eye exams for Alumni. Dr. Ha also provided new prescription glasses free of charge. One Alum shared that, thanks to his eyeglasses, he feels more confident in school, now that he can read the board and his textbooks better.
Wendy also coordinated with LAmade Clothing to host a career day for alumnae. These young women learned the “behind-the-scenes” of the fashion industry, received clothing from the designer and were photographed in their new clothing for Wendy’s fashion blog.
As a former foster care youth, Wendy knows first-hand how resilient our young people must be to succeed. She hopes that her life story of going from foster care, to graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, to becoming an entrepreneur, could inspire them. “Knowing that I have made a small impact on someone’s life motivates me tremendously to become a better person and a good role model.”