Meet HOPE’s April Volunteer of the Month, Matthew Calderon
“He was raised right.”
We’ve all heard that saying, “Don’t knock it until you try it,” meaning don’t judge or criticize something without having personally experienced it. This is the first phrase that comes to mind after speaking with HOPE April Volunteer of the Month, Matthew Calderon. At just 24 years old, he has more life experience than the average 80-year-old.
So many men and women in their mid-20s are still “figuring it” out. What they want to be, what a five-year plan looks like, where they want to live, etc. Matthew is also doing that, but he’s been narrowing down his goals through experiences. He’s constantly learning, evolving, and giving back, a trend that started at a very young age.
Matthew was born outside of D.C., living all over Maryland as he grew up. His family lived in rural towns, where the first day of hunting season meant a day off from work, and the bulk of the population were fishermen. Matthew chuckled because he didn’t know what “Nike” or “Lebron Shoes” were. “I owe a lot of who I am [from] growing up in such a simple life,” Matthew says. “It’s helped me with humility.”
His mom is a “tiger mom” and an Army Brat with the attitude of a drill sergeant. She has always encouraged her son to pursue his passions, from ballet to football. As one of his biggest cheerleaders and advocates, she would spend hours helping him with homework through his grade school years.
She can also be a little stubborn. When Matthew was in first grade, he always took his shoes off in class because he did it at home, and it made him feel comfortable. That didn’t fly for the professor during that period, so he was sent to the principal’s office, and Mrs. Calderon did not take well to that. “Fine, he just won’t be in your class ever again,” she said. She would pick Matthew up every day during that period, taking him to the park or volunteering. “She’d drop me off after, so we didn’t have to deal with that professor yelling at me,” he said with a smile.
His background explains so much about who Matthew is now and why he chose to start volunteering with HOPE in November. “I think we’re all called to do something,” he says. He deeply appreciates the military and is considering joining down the road. In 2021, he did a deep dive on his own time, completing a six-week instructional “Special Operations Selection Prep Class” in Virginia Beach.
“I think about that experience every single day,” he says. “It’s given me a unique perspective.”
During the class, he worked with Navy Seals to learn about general fitness, mental toughness, and team problem-solving, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It was a life-changing experience. “[It helped me] understand the veteran mindset. They don’t want handouts; they want a little bit of help.”
He’s always volunteered from a young age to his college years at Georgetown. Even with his busy work in real estate, he wanted to continue that public service. He found Hope For The Warriors through LinkedIn when he searched for an organization that helped veterans. He’s helping HOPE Technical Operations Manager Avis Thomas in the office by wiping laptops and cell phones that will later be donated.
“[He’s] such a warm-hearted, kind, dependable young man,” Avis says. “He always goes beyond the call of duty. He was raised right.”
Volunteers are the heartbeat of our organization as they show our military community that the country is behind them. If you are interested in hearing how you can bring your talents, skills, and desire to serve our nation’s heroes to HOPE, please email us at email@example.com or click here for more information!