Interview with Osuman Issaka: Making a Difference in the Community
By: eBay Inc. Editors
Osuman Issaka, MS Workforce Management Senior Analyst, NA Merchant Services, has worked for PayPal for eight years. Osuman is also an active member of the Omaha GIVE Team and a dedicated volunteer at the Omaha Housing Authority (OHA) Foundation, an organization that improves the quality of life for low-income families served by the housing authority. The OHA Foundation offers a variety of important educational, cultural and recreational activities and programs in Omaha, which ranks third on the list of 100 largest metropolitan cities for the highest poverty rates among African Americans.
Osuman joined the Omaha GIVE Team to make an impact on local nonprofits. His unwavering commitment to the refugee community and disadvantaged youth has made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of children and their families. In August of 2011, the Omaha GIVE Team awarded a $5,000 grant to the OHA Foundation to support the youth Soccer Academy program.
The Soccer Academy was established in 2008 to provide refugees and inner-city youth with quality soccer coaches and training. The academy provides local youth with the opportunity to participate in an organized and competitive sport and helps them develop core principles of respect, teamwork, confidence and perseverance. In addition to soccer, the academy provides nutrition education, mentoring, college preparation, community service opportunities and truancy and gang prevention programs.
According to Omaha GIVE Team Co-Chair, Andrea Costanzo, Osuman is a rock-star to the kids who participate in the soccer program. We asked Osuman to tell us about his volunteerism.
Why did you join the Omaha GIVE Team?
I joined the team to have an impact in funding local projects and to get involved with volunteerism.
How did you get involved with OHA Foundation and their soccer program?
I have volunteered as a coach for the OHA football program for the past seven years. My brother works for the organization, and together we identified a need for a soccer program to respond to the increase in African refugees in OHA and the Omaha community. He decided to organize the program, and I offered to assist in any way possible, including coaching, mentoring and helping with transportation.
How is OHA using the GIVE Team grant?
They used the grant to provide financial support to sustain the soccer program on all levels. The program helps refugees assimilate by allowing them to participate in a familiar sport and pastime. In 2011, the program served 265 youth (90 percent were living in public housing, and 95 percent were African-American). We had 250 kids participate in a soccer skill-building camp offered by Creighton University, and 30 kids play on premier club teams, such as Azzuri.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your relationship with OHA and the soccer program?
I feel like I was able to have a meaningful impact on the refugee youth community by providing an avenue for social engagement and recreation. This helped ease the kids’ transition to their new lives in the U.S.
Where does your passion for volunteering come from?
I’m from Ghana and have lived through some difficult situations. I grew up believing that helping the less fortunate has a huge impact on your personal life. I believe that opportunities, like coming to the U.S., allowed me to become the person I am today. I don’t think volunteering is a choice, for me, it’s a duty.
What advice would you give eBay employees who are interested in volunteering?
You never know what will happen, and someday you or someone you know might be in need. I encourage you to volunteer, whether it’s one hour or one day.