Mason Pfeifer, a 21-year-old Criminal Justice major, was looking for a purpose in his Portland, Ore., home. Living in a city full of artists, musicians and free-thinkers, he was sure there was something more he could be getting out of life.
With inspiration all around him, a high school service project at a local homeless shelter is what he says truly impacted and helped shape who he is today. It was in this shelter where he served meals and spent time talking and listening to the stories of the people there.
“Seeing them there, especially outside in the pouring rain, that was something that affected me and made me really wish to do something to help them,” Pfeifer said.
He arrived at Chaminade University of Honolulu in 2014 eager for the new adventure and nervous about making new friends. Fast forward to today and Pfeifer, now a senior, has gained more than friends on his journey of self discovery while continuing to help the community when he can.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday you can find him at Jarrett Middle School, in Palolo tutoring students in subjects like reading and math. He also goes the extra mile to help students with extra curricular activities like learning how to play chess or improve their basketball shot.
“It makes me really happy knowing that I helped them accomplish their goals,” he said. “There’s so much more to tutoring these kids than tutoring them.”
The work that Pfeifer is most passionate about stems from his stunning experience during that high school service project all those years ago. Anywhere from four to seven times a month, he is at Next Step Shelter in Honolulu giving his time to serve those in need.
“I love volunteering because it’s not just because of what you do it’s what you get out of it,” Pfeifer said. “It helps you see life in a different way. It helps you feel good because you never know if you could be there one day. … It’s just a good experience to be able to see how the little things that we take for granted and how you can see that this [a hot meal] is something that they’d love to have and it’s the highlight of their day, that’s the most rewarding part.”
Being a senior in college can get overwhelming, but Pfeifer pushes on while continuing to volunteer whatever free time he may have. The driving force behind this helping hand of hope is a mystery to many, but his friend Francesca Peters, a 19-year-old sophomore studying criminal justice, has an idea.
“He really just wants to do this for the community and not necessarily just for himself,” Peters said. “I think he really just truly likes being there for people or helping people.”
In the last four years, he has made more friends than he would have imagined as a freshman and touched countless lives. Pfeifer is still looking to branch 0ut to find his true purpose, but his experiences helping those in need will always be a reminder of the good one can do when they come with a helping hand.