Person of the Week: Mike Munao

CHARLOTTE Mike Munao has been walking the halls of Mecklenburg County schools as a Communities in Schools volunteer for 23 years.

In that time, he's given more than 800 hours.

This past year Munao spent an hour a week helping 12-year-old Dwayne Lynn with his school work, but his influence reaches beyond the classroom.

"He helps me be a better young man and he's a great role model in my life," Lynn said.

Munao has been a role model for 32 students during his years of service.

"I think it's extremely important to have that one-on-one relationship because that student will remember him from the time he begins the relationship until they end," said Gwen Thompson, CIS site coordinator in Charlotte.

This isn't just a learning experience for the students. Munao said he also gets a lot out of working with them.

"I think it's a challenge," he said. "I like to take the time to learn along with the student because I find that as I go through each year, I usually have a different person, different personality. And as I get to expand my knowledge, and help them and teach them, I also get to learn."

Years after helping his first students, Munao realizes the impact he's had on their lives.

"I got a phone call a couple of years ago," he explained. "He [the student] said, 'Hey, I would just like the time to take you to lunch because you meant a lot in my life back then. I didn't realize it until I was a little older.'"

Corenita Jones, Lynn's, mother said she's already seen changes in her son thanks to Munao's work.

"I've seen the change in him being more dedicated and focused and serious about his work," she said. "He's been more independent and being responsible."

Munao believes every volunteer can make a difference in a child's life.

"If every single one of the volunteers can have one student every year, that's one student that will have a better life or a better chance at life, so every person can help another person," Munao said. "I just feel that if you put the time and effort into it, that you will be rewarded over time, just personally knowing that you helped someone."

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