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Honouring The Whole Volunteer

Published: Oct 12, 2022 @ 9:41 AM

Between the booming metropolis of Toronto and the Las Vegas of Canada, Niagara Falls, lies the city of Hamilton, within that city is Mohawk College and let me tell you they are doing some very cool things within their volunteer program! We had the pleasure of chatting with the Student Life Team there to learn more about post-secondary volunteerism.

Their volunteer program is based around 'honouring the whole student'. Curious about what that looks like in practice? It first starts with acknowledging the volunteer is a whole human, not just a heartbeat that fulfills a task. After that it's about ensuring their basic needs as a human are met so that they are free to volunteer, that looks different for every human but most common for the student population is food and transportation. Students cannot think about volunteering if they are hungry, worried about how they are going to eat in the coming week. Transportation is costly and margins are increasingly tighter for everyone, students are the same. We talk a lot about removing barrier for volunteers but this is deeper, this is about acknowledging the basic inequities that prevent people from even thinking about incorporating volunteerism into their life.

So many organizations are run completely by volunteers, so much connection and good work happens through those volunteer spaces but I guess this is also a call to look at the person across the table in those meeting or in the zoom box and consider how we are taking care of each other. 

We will certainly be thinking about how to honour the whole volunteer in the next position we recruit for.