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Making a

Meet People Making a Difference

PMD, founded by Lori Tsuruda ‘89, is a long-standing partner of the PKG Center. We connected with Lori to share the PMD story and highlight their contributions to our community.

People Making a Difference (PMD) seeks to create a world in which people and businesses are socially aware and engaged in their communities such that they approach volunteerism by learning about problems and needs, becoming familiar with local charities that are working to address them, volunteering reliably, and providing other needed resources to make a difference. Our vision is for everyone to be able to volunteer productively a few times a year so that together we make a real difference throughout the year while learning important things along the way.

Why did you found People Making a Difference (PMD)?
People want to help out in their community, but many lack the connections to get started. In addition, local charities need help, but many lack the expertise and/or capacity to engage volunteers. People Making a Difference (PMD) bridges the gap, connecting volunteers to opportunities where they are most needed.

How are you currently engaging with MIT students and/or what impact has your current student employee had on advancing the mission of People Making a Difference?
MIT undergrads, grad students, post-docs, and staff and faculty volunteer for individual PMD service projects throughout the year. I'm working with a PKG Federal Work-Study student this academic year who is assisting in the preparation for and management of volunteers, which enables us to engage more volunteers in hands-on service where they are needed.

As an alumna, what role did service play in your time at MIT?
Volunteering connected me with lifelong friends and philanthropic causes. As an undergrad, I volunteered for the Residence/Orientation (R/O) committee for several years, served on the steering committee that started MIT’s PSC, and was very active in Alpha Phi Omega (APO), the co-ed service fraternity that organizes the Book Exchange and hands-on volunteer opportunities and used to run the Big Screw and UMOC contests for charity, plus help build playgrounds and paint local charities.
What do you wish people knew about PMD?
I wish that people knew that you can make a real difference in just three hours by participating with a group of like-minded, motivated volunteers, and that although we prefer volunteers to respect our registration deadlines, if you become available after a deadline, you should definitely CALL OUR OFFICE to see whether we need more help, since there could be a last-minute cancellation. Furthermore, if you belong to an organized group like Tau Beta Pi or a fraternity/sorority, with enough advance notice, we may be able to include you in (or organize) an on-campus service project for your group, like setting up for a science bowl competition to assembling science kits.
Please share any successes or challenges you would like to highlight:
  • PMD (contracted by MIT Sea Grant) runs the whole Blue Lobster Bowl high school ocean sciences competition every winter, which means that we recruit and train all the volunteers (80-90) to officiate for this competition among 24 high school teams. We particularly welcome current students and alumni of the National Ocean Science Bowl and the National Science Bowl to officiate for this and the Northeast Regional Middle School Science Bowl since it takes almost as many volunteers as competitors to make these inspiring experiences possible. Learn more at or
  • More than 3,300 people, most from the MIT Community, have volunteered with People Making a Difference (PMD) to assemble hundreds of classroom science kits (chromosome, DNA/RNA, protein, atoms & molecule) for middle and high schools across the country.
  • Our big challenge is mobilizing volunteers reliably when they are most needed. We need more help amplifying our volunteer recruitment efforts, like posting and sharing PMD’s volunteer opportunities with your facebook and real-life friends.
What is one thing an interested student or volunteer could do to help PMD today or in the near future?
Sign up to volunteer since our on-campus opportunities are conveniently located and mostly take place on weekends. Check out the next month's activities here, , join our private email here, and/or "Like" AND "Show First" PMD in News Feed on Facebook.
How has your experience been working with the PKG Center?
We simply could not connect with many MIT students if not for the PKG Center. Thank you!