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Matthew Simonson

Capstone Project

Matthew completed his capstone project by partnering with MyPlace Mankato. All quotes used below are from Matthew's final Capstone presentation. 

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About the Location

MY Place Mankato is a nonprofit organization committed to providing a nurturing environment that empowers youth to build confidence, knowledge, and skills needed to reach their full potential.

Visit to learn more.

About Matthews Role

"My main responsibilities included creating volunteer schedules, reaching out to volunteers about staffing upcoming events, and managing aspects of the reading

and music programs. Aside from this, however, I did a bit of most things and found myself involved with a wide variety of aspects related to the daily operations of MY Place. This allowed me to have a great perspective on the inner-workings of the organization and helped me support many of the staff and volunteers that make possible everything MY Place has and will

accomplish here in Mankato."

Memorable Experience

"My most memorable experiences from the time I spent at MY Place would be my interactions with the children. Even though I was working as a volunteer coordinator during my year of service, spending time with the kids and getting to know them was the most valuable part of my time there. I now have a much better understanding of their lives, their desires, and their struggles and barriers to obtaining the things they want and need in their lives. This experience has altered my perspective in such a way that allows me to approach my service to the community in a more wholistic way than was possible for me prior to working at MY Place.


"Something I feel was one of the most important lessons learned during my time

at MY Place is the value of community engagement in supporting an organisation committed to

providing services and necessities to those within the city who have the most significant barriers

to obtaining these things for themselves. While this is a noble effort to undertake, it is imperative

to keep in mind the impact and intent that white people have going into this work when the

majority of the members of MY Place are from the BIPOC communities within Mankato. So, I

feel that incorporating a sort of training/onboarding process for white volunteers to help them

understand bias and systemic issues that are causing the disparities necessitating the services

offered by MY Place raises awareness and allows people to help in a way that respects those they

serve while giving them the opportunity to begin dismantling the obstacles that prevent so many

community members from achieving their full potential."

Future Goals

"Moving forward, I have decided to start working more directly with the children of Mankato and have obtained a position within the school district as a paraeducator. While I still highly value community outreach and engagement for its ability to directly effect change, I feel like I would greatly appreciate the ability to support the kids in their educational

growth and development. Even though my current path has led me away from volunteer coordinating, I would still like to be involved with the volunteers of MY Place and plan on joining the cadre of reading volunteers very soon."

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