National Volunteer Week: Meet Dave Kolstad

This week is National Volunteer Week!  Volunteers play a vital role here at Cloud & Fire and their time, support and efforts are greatly appreciated by staff and students alike. Our volunteers participate in admin assistance, tutoring, handyman work, events and much more. We welcome anyone interested in helping students to survive, strive and thrive!

If you’ve ever been to Cloud & Fire, then chances are you’ve met Dave Kolstad, one of our most faithful volunteers. Dave is bursting at the seams with information and stories of his adventures from all over the world. Check out what he had to say about the time he invests in our program:

Dave cheers on a student as they successfully solve a math problem they were struggling with. Next to him is a another one of our wonderful volunteers Livia.

How long have you been volunteering with us?

Three years I think.  I’d have to stop and compute, but I’m pretty sure it’s been three years now.

How did you first hear about Cloud & Fire?

I go to Bel Air Presbyterian Church, which is a big supporter of Cloud & Fire, and so I probably heard about you through them. I also met Melody (Cloud & Fire’s Founder and Executive Director) a few times there and once I retired I thought, “What am I going to do with myself?”

What made you want to get involved here at Cloud & Fire?

Well, two things: I needed to do something meaningful with my time after retirement. The second is that I see kids who for one reason or another have had their education messed up but they’re trying to get themselves back on track and I want to help them.

In what ways do you volunteer?

The big time thing this year has been tutoring. I’m not a teacher, I’m a tutor and the difference is that I help people usually one-on-one or two-and-three-on-one. I don’t have to come up with the lessons I just follow along with what the teacher is already teaching. In years before this I would do that as well as handyman work. So if I saw some light bulbs out or something I would fix it. I did teach a woodworking class my second year but the trouble with that was coming up with something and then getting people to actually do it. I’m much better as a tutor.

What are, if any, some of the challenges you face as a volunteer and how do you overcome them?

Of course, the bigger issues are some students are still kids and they haven’t quite recognized that they have to get it together just yet. It’s harder to work with those types of students but it’s a matter working past that and at times asking the teachers for assistance. But the attitude problems aren’t significant. They do happen, but with a really small number of the students who are here. Most of them are trying to do better and are simply struggling.

I learned something maybe a year or so ago from a newspaper article. It touched on math, which is a subject I tend to assist with predominantly here. It said that if you don’t get comfortable with the basics of math early on in childhood you will likely not be comfortable later on. None of these kids are comfortable with math and giving them comfortability is a real struggle—but it’s worth trying to accomplish. It’s like learning how to swim. Once you’re comfortable with the water the rest of it comes easy, but until you’re comfortable with the water it’s impossible. And these kids are not comfortable in the waters of math just yet and I want to help them do better.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

To see kids get the material. Because most of them are fine people, but just don’t believe that they are or that they can because they don’t hear it that often. It’s good to be a part of helping them believe in themselves and know that they can get the material.

Interested in joining Dave and the rest of our wonderful volunteers–make your own positive imprint on a student’s life. Contact Claire at or visit our website for more details.