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Evaluating Goals: Setting up your 2024 for Success Pt 2

Published: Feb 28, 2024 @ 1:42 PM

Part 2: Accomplishing Goals in Volunteering

Welcome back! Hopefully, you have read the first article and identified your goals for volunteering in 2024 that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based (S.M.A.R.T). Setting goals is great, but it is only the first step. The second and perhaps the most daunting step is figuring out how to achieve them. It can be hard to know what steps to take or how to develop good habits around achieving goals. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I will gladly share what I have learned to help you along your journey.

Be Thorough

If the S.M.A.R.T. acronym illuminates anything, it’s that goals take work. Life is busy for everyone, and adding in an extra thing, such as volunteering, can be challenging. When setting goals, be as thorough as possible. Think about what you want, investigate what it will take to accomplish them, and then map it out. Here are three things to remember when mapping out a plan for volunteering in 2024.

Self-reflection

Have you tried to volunteer before? To move forward with success, it is essential to take some time and think about the past and previous goals. Reflect on the goals you had and identify three things.

  1. Boosts - What helped me accomplish the goals I achieved?
  2. Barriers - What kept me from the goals I didn’t achieve?
  3. Desires - What do I want moving forward?

These three questions will help you reflect on your progress from the year before and set or reframe new goals for the upcoming one. Identifying boosts, barriers, and desires can inform how you set and achieve your goals in volunteerism.

Research

You might fall into two camps when it comes to goals and volunteering. The first camp needs to know where to start or what they want; the second needs to know the next steps. Researching will help you further define a plan and understand how to volunteer. An essential part of that preparation is people. There are three types of people you can watch out for on your journey.

  1. The Experts - Look for experts in the fields you are passionate about. How can you help? Where do the needs lie? There are many free resources online that can provide helpful tips and guidance. The latest news section on Volunteer Connector contains articles written by people with lots of volunteerism experience.
  2. The Encouragers - Find those around you who have volunteered, specifically in areas you are interested in. The key is trusted individuals who know you; you can allow them to speak into your life. Surround yourself with positive energy, and in turn, that energy can be funneled to achieving your goals.
  3. The Knockoffs and Nay-sayers - Beware the “social media gurus,” there are a lot of lies and half-truths out there; don’t fall for clout chasers. Most of the good done in the world happens off-camera. In the same vein, it might be time to cut out certain people from your life who only bring negative energy and attitude towards you and your goals.

We live in a world with much information at our fingertips, and sifting through it can be challenging. This is why Volunteer Connector exists: to ensure the opportunities you seek are only a click away. The more knowledge you gain, the more you can apply to your goals. Be encouraged that you aren’t alone; many people have been where you are and wanted the same things out of life.

Strategize

If your goals are indeed S.M.A.R.T., it will be easier to map them out. Break down your goals into levels of importance and the amount of effort it will take, and write down steps you need to take to achieve them. Give yourself a boost by having some easy wins early to build on.

  1. Take Time - Schedule a day at the beginning of the year specifically dedicated to your goals and mapping them out, then create a series of check-ins throughout the year to gauge progress and reflect. Your check-ins can be a great place to evaluate if your volunteering goals were achievable and accurately time-based. When looking at volunteering, this is the most crucial step. Set yourself up for success by getting your research in early.
  2. Set reminders - Use one of the many apps on your phone or create physical reminders with sticky notes on the fridge. Reminders can make a huge difference early on before you develop the habits you’re looking for. If you are comfortable, engage your spouse or a trusted friend to keep you accountable.
  3. Celebrate - ‘Treat yourself’ might not be the best term, especially if it’s counterintuitive to a goal like losing weight or saving money. But I've said it a few times already: set smaller goals early to boost your confidence. As you continue through the year, find ways to celebrate big or small victories. When volunteering, consider stopping for your favorite frozen treat or pint of beer on your way home. This can be extremely helpful in habit building.

The more you invest in your goals, the more you will get out of them. The more time, effort, and planning you can put into how you want to volunteer, the more likely you will make it a regular part of your life. As an adult, I am far more organized than I was when I was young. Organization and strategic thinking were skills I had to develop, and now I have systems to keep my life and goals organized. There is hope for all of us.

Be Silent

To conclude this two-part article series, I wanted to share one of my favorite pieces of research— and you can do with it what you wish. Regardless of what they are, keeping your goals to yourself could be crucial to achieving them. New York University professor of psychology Peter M. Gollwitzer has extensively researched the self-regulation of goal pursuit. One thing that came out of his research is that when we share our goals with others and receive a positive reaction, we get the same positive reinforcement as if we accomplished them, and consequently, we are less likely to achieve those goals. Seek out encouragers in your life, but wait until you have set the goals and are in progress before sharing.

After reading this series, I hope you are motivated to take your first steps toward active volunteerism. So cheers to the new year and the new you!

 

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Infectious Energy

Published: Feb 14, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome guest blog writer Kathy Enrique-Nyguyen. Kathy is a freelance writer just starting out with a huge love for One Piece and an even bigger heart for cats – she would die for her cat or any cat. Scribbling stories and chilling with her cat is her purrfect day. To connect with Kathy or read more of her work check out her blog.

When I first signed up to volunteer at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo back in 2007, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. The thought of giving up my time for free made me question my decision. However, I wanted to leave my comfort zone and do something different. I’m glad I did because the experience changed my view on volunteering entirely. 

Back then, the Expo was just a small local convention compared to how they are today. I’ve always had a love for comic books and pop culture. However, it was my first volunteer experience, and as excited as I was, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was assigned to a team responsible for assisting exhibitors and vendors, and initially, I thought, “How could this possibly be fun?”

Oh, how wrong I was! The energy of the event was infectious. Being an attendee was fun, but getting to volunteer, you get to see all the backend things that happen. The team I joined was more than just a group of volunteers; they were super fun to hang out with once we got past the awkwardness. We connected over shared interests and the thrill of being part of something bigger than ourselves. 

Assisting the exhibitors and vendors turned out to be incredibly rewarding. I learned about the hard work behind the scenes and the joy of making someone’s day a little easier. The energy and the smiles we received made it all worthwhile.

The experience was so much fun that I volunteered at the Expo for two more years. It wasn’t about the event but the connections I built and the community I became a part of. I even ran into Brent Spiner wandering around by himself and saying hello to everyone! This newfound love for volunteering led me to other volunteer opportunities, including the Calgary Drop-In Centre.  

To anyone who feels like volunteering might seem like giving your time away for free, it’s so much more. Unlike work, you can volunteer to do things you love and care about. It’s about connecting with your community, discovering new passions and learning about yourself. It’s a chance for you to step out of your comfort zone, and I encourage everyone to volunteer at least once in their lifetime. 

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Evaluating Goals: Setting up your 2024 for Success

Published: Feb 7, 2024 @ 3:08 PM

Part 1: Defining Goals

A new year is underway. Some of us have made goals, and some may have already given up. If you have fallen into the latter category, fear not. There is plenty of time left in the year, and I have discovered some tips to help you reframe your goals and pick them back up again. Whether your goal is better physical fitness, a new career trajectory, increasing time with friends and family, or volunteering, this two-part article series will encourage you and help set you up for success!

Be S.M.A.R.T.

I recall being in primary school and receiving an agenda each year. If this is new to you, an agenda is a day planner for students with room for schedules, assignment planning, and goals. It's a mandatory $10 purchase that most students never use. One thing that has stuck with me all these years is an acronym on each agenda's first page. S.M.A.R.T. is a guide on how to set and keep goals, and it still rings true to this day. While this rubric can be helpful regardless of your goal, let’s look at how it can be beneficial within the scope of volunteerism.

Specific – Broad goals can be harder to achieve. The more details you can include, the better you can picture and plan for it. Consider narrowing your focus. Instead of simply saying you wish to volunteer or volunteer more, think about how or where you want to volunteer. What values, skills, and passions do you have? Are you social and want to volunteer directly with people? Do you enjoy laborious activities?  Narrow down a couple of places using Volunteer Connector before you set the goal!

Measurable – Analyze your goal and determine if you can quantify the steps you must achieve to get you there. If it’s not measurable, consider reframing in a way you can track. If your goal is to find a place to volunteer or to increase the amount you want to serve your community, consider how many days a week or month you want to spend doing so. Consider that the time you need to volunteer must come from somewhere. Try to break it down even further by hours. This way, you can track your progress, adjust your schedule, and measure your success.

Achievable – Let's be honest: not all goals are realistic. Determine whether your goal is reasonable enough for the year or whatever timeline seems appropriate. As someone whose goal last year was to lose weight, I was propelled to further success by achieving an attainable goal. After that, I was encouraged to keep going, sustain good habits, and set new goals. While volunteering can be a realistic goal for anyone, don’t be afraid to set the bar slightly lower and then exceed the goal rather than aim too high and get discouraged. If you have never volunteered before, I would encourage small steps. Try it once a month to start, check a few different organizations, use some trial and error, and adjust your goals accordingly.

Relevant – If a particular goal is entirely outside your lifestyle, values, or long-term goals, it can be much harder to achieve. This can be especially true when volunteering. Volunteering within your life ecosystem will lend some ease to attaining this goal. Find out if your work, place of worship, or community association has volunteer initiatives you can participate in. Volunteering at your children’s school can be great if your work hours allow it. Consider places with a short commute time and remove the excuse of driving across town. If you have friends also interested in volunteering, try doing it together. Volunteering as a social activity is a great way to add it to a busy schedule. Changing your life to accomplish specific goals can be difficult and ultimately unfeasible, but fitting them into your life will help immensely.

Time-based – If you are setting goals for the year, map them out. Set smaller goals or steps for the weeks and months; this will help you prioritize tasks and get a much-needed boost when you accomplish these targets. Planning it out can help avoid the excuses of “I’ll do it in the summer when I have more time.” Never be afraid to dream big and further into the future. Long-term goals and planning are also important. Start immediately; schedule one volunteer experience and adjust your timeline after you get a feel for it.

The S.M.A.R.T. system is simple and effective. It's a tool designed to help you assess and achieve goals. Once you learn how to analyze and break down your goals through this process, this will equip you to succeed. If you are interested in volunteering or if that is one of your goals for the year, I encourage you to browse the opportunities listed on our site and use this rubric to develop and evaluate how you want to achieve that. Stay tuned for part two of the article, where I will provide plenty of practical advice on achieving your goals!

 

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Adventures In Volunteering - Episode 5

Published: Jan 31, 2024 @ 11:11 AM

On this episode of Adventures in Volunteering we once again join our main character Jeff as he tries to kick his new year off by helping support an organization he loves. Despite his demanding day job, Jeff has found a unique way to engage in micro-volunteering that aligns with his passion for promoting anti-racism initiatives.

Jeff's story is one of balancing responsibilities and making a meaningful impact within the constraints of a hectic lifestyle (read: he just got a playstation and is trying to beat Spiderman: Miles Morales, jk kinda). As a first-generation Canadian born to Pakistani parents, Jeff brings a unique perspective to his commitment to anti-racism efforts. His personal experiences fuel his desire to contribute to positive change and create a more inclusive society for his children and future generations.

In the evenings, after tucking his kids into bed and winding down from a full day at work, Jeff dedicates a few moments to micro-volunteering. Instead of conventional volunteer work that may demand a substantial time commitment, Jeff has chosen to fill out a survey for VolunteerConnector to enhance its anti-racism approach. This form of micro-volunteering allows Jeff to contribute meaningfully to an organization he believes in without overwhelming his already busy schedule.

Jeff's decision to focus on anti-racism initiatives stems from his own journey as a first-generation Canadian. Growing up with Pakistani heritage in a culturally diverse environment, he faced the challenges of navigating identity and combating stereotypes. These experiences ignited a desire within him to actively participate in initiatives that challenge prejudice and promote understanding.

The survey Jeff fills out covers a range of topics, from assessing the barriers to participating in volunteering to gathering insights on potential areas of improvement in the volunteer experience. Despite the brevity of the survey, Jeff understands the cumulative impact of his contributions. Every opinion he shares becomes a valuable piece of feedback that aids VolunteerConnector in refining its strategies and fostering a more inclusive environment.

Jeff's micro-volunteering approach is not only practical but also showcases the accessibility of contributing to social causes in the digital age. The flexibility of filling out surveys aligns seamlessly with his lifestyle, allowing him to be an active participant in the fight against racism without compromising his responsibilities as a father and professional and a gamer.

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Serving Sandwiches, Disarming Anxiety: My Eye-Opening Volunteer Experience

Published: Jan 26, 2024 @ 9:24 AM

We welcome guest blog writer Josie Simon. Josie is a freelance writer with a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary and a steadfast believer in the power of volunteering. Her journey has taken her from the vibrant lecture halls of the University of Calgary to the heart of our community, serving in roles like the Humour and Opinions Assistant for the Gauntlet Publications Society, the Director of Education and Outreach for the Women in Politics Club, and a student volunteer with the SU Campus Food Bank. These roles have deepened her conviction in service and advocacy, reinforcing the significant impact we can have through commitment and action.

Growing up, I was plagued by extreme shyness and self-doubt. Being in social situations terrified me, and the fear of making mistakes held me back in every aspect of life. Transitioning into adulthood as a first-year student at the University of Calgary only exacerbated my struggles, as I found it incredibly difficult to form new connections and make friends.

Desperate for a change, I volunteered for the 2019 Alternative Spring Break program with SU (Students Union) Volunteer Services. This program allowed undergraduate students like me to lend a helping hand to various non-profit organizations in Calgary over Reading Week.

One of the places I had the opportunity to volunteer with was the Calgary Drop-In Centre. There, my group and I were responsible for making sandwiches for individuals experiencing homelessness. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. But it was not because of the people we were serving or my fellow volunteers but rather the voice inside my head whispering that I would inevitably mess up or ruin the sandwiches.

However, as the hours ticked by and the sandwiches were successfully prepared, I experienced a transformative realization. Engaging in light-hearted conversations with the other volunteers, I began to feel a sense of confidence growing within me. This experience was not a miraculous overnight transformation, but it marked a significant starting point in my journey toward overcoming my crippling social anxiety and self-doubt.

Fast forward to the present, and I am now a graduate with countless hours of volunteer work under my belt. Although I still occasionally battle with anxiety, it no longer paralyzes me as it once did. Volunteering has become a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment, allowing me to develop confidence in my abilities. It is funny how we often view volunteering as solely a means of helping others. However, I have come to realize that the power of community extends far beyond that. Volunteering has the incredible ability to transform and shape us into better versions of ourselves.

To all those struggling with anxiety and low self-confidence, I implore you to seize the opportunity to volunteer. It may seem daunting at first, but through the act of giving back, you will discover strengths and capabilities you never knew existed within you. Sign up and volunteer today and watch as your perspective on life begins to change.

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Cupcakes Challenge

Published: Dec 20, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

This week’s guest blog is from Wati Z

“Sometimes, you just need to ask, and let's see from there what door you might open.” This is a direct quote from one of My friends who is probably a champion of volunteer work, she would help with a lot of School volunteering work such as fundraising committees of any kind; she is an active member of the PTA; she does a lot of carpooling driving for struggling parents. So, when she comes to me and asks me to help, I try my best not to disappoint her in any way possible. 

That is when the cupcakes challenge came to me and several more challenges such as sending to school foods from the country of origin for International Day or helping in the afternoon fun for kids where the school rents a lot of kids’ games from bouncy castle, basketball hoop, and many more games just after Covid 19 ease off. This time she is fundraising money to buy children's books. The destination will be decided by grades five and six during their library reading time and the theme is “International World Literacy.” 

This cupcake volunteering to provide ten yummy cupcakes was a fun challenge for me because instead of ten I challenged myself to make 100 cupcakes for a good cause. I love to cook in general and sometimes, I would invite many friends over to my house to have lunch together, so that was why they know that I do have a good recipe for cupcakes. I made all 100 cupcakes that evening before, and on the following day, I had to deliver them to school at 11 a.m., I prepared all the boxes and iced them one by one. As I never made that many cupcakes, it took longer to ice them than it should. 

I remember, those cupcakes were all gone less than 15 minutes started from the recess bell rang. Big and small kids bought almost all those treats from cupcakes, cookies, cakes, popcorn, veggies cut, and so on. Kids are so open to the idea of giving and lending a helping hand to others. 

As I challenged myself, I believe those kids also do the very same things. Eager to contribute and to help. This simple act rewards you with satisfaction and truly makes you feel good to give. 

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Adventures In Volunteering, Again - 4

Published: Dec 13, 2023 @ 11:49 AM

For many the holiday season is bustling with excitement, joy, and the anticipation of what gifts Santa will leave under the tree, but some are not as lucky. As we join our volunteer Jeff, he is now a University of Calgary Graduate student pursuing his MBA at the Haskayne School of Business.

While Jeff’s family wasn’t wealthy growing up, his parents always provided a warm Christmas meal, festive family fun, a roof over Jeff’s head, and by hook or by crook arranged for Santa to make a stop at Jeff’s family post midnight-mass Christmas at Nan Dolly’s extravaganza (although this Santa was a shade darker than the one at Deerfoot Mall and looked suspiciously like Jeff’s Pakistani Uncle Tony). The spirit of Christmas was alive and well throughout Jeff’s live and it was something he never took for granted!

This particular December, Jeff decided to volunteer at Mustard Seed Calgary's Family Gift Centre. The Mustard Seed, a nonprofit organization committed to supporting individuals and families experiencing poverty and homelessness, hosts the Family Gift Centre annually to bring joy to those less fortunate during the holiday season.

Jeff's decision to spend his Christmas volunteering at the Mustard Seed was driven by a deep sense of empathy and a desire to make a positive impact in his community and provide the same type of Christmas he had experienced every year of his life to those who were less fortunate. He wanted to channel his excessive Christmas spirit towards creating a meaningful experience for families facing economic hardships. In the words of Jeff’s hero Will Ferrell’s iconic character Buddy the Elf “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” and while Jeff wasn’t exactly qualified to carry a tune he did want to spread some Christmas cheer the best way he knew how: volunteering!

Upon arriving at the Mustard Seed Calgary's Family Gift Centre, Jeff was greeted by a bustling atmosphere filled with the warmth of generosity and the anticipation of spreading holiday cheer. Families in need were welcomed into the center, where they had the opportunity to choose gifts for their loved ones, ensuring that they could experience the joy of giving during a season that often magnifies financial challenges.

Jeff's role involved assisting families in navigating the gift selection process. With a genuine smile and a compassionate heart, he guided parents and children through the array of donated items, offering them the chance to pick out presents that resonated with the unique preferences of their family members. Jeff's enthusiasm was contagious, creating an atmosphere of unity and shared joy within the Family Gift Centre.

As families selected their gifts, Jeff witnessed firsthand the transformative power of generosity. The faces of parents lit up with gratitude, and children's eyes sparkled with excitement as they held tightly to their chosen presents. In these moments, Jeff discovered a profound sense of fulfillment, realizing that the true magic of Christmas lies in the ability to give and create lasting memories for those who may not have the means to do so themselves.

Throughout the day, Jeff's commitment to the cause became increasingly evident. Whether he was wrapping presents, offering a comforting word to a struggling parent, or engaging in festive activities with the families, Jeff embodied the spirit of selflessness that defines the true meaning of Christmas.

As the Family Gift Centre's doors closed on Christmas day, Jeff reflected on his experience with a heart full of gratitude. The bonds formed, the smiles shared, and the collective effort to make a difference reinforced his belief in the power of community and compassion.

Jeff's story serves as a testament to the potential for positive change that lies within each of us, reminding us that the true spirit of Christmas is found in the generosity of our actions and the connections we forge with those in need.

 

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Communication is Key

Published: Nov 29, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

Guest Blog this week from Jacob, a grade 12 student from Ottawa, Ontario. 

My volunteering journey began at Black Belt Excellence, a Taekwondo dojang I'd been a part of for around 8-9 years with my sister. I decided to quit Taekwondo when Covid hit, right after I earned my Black Belt. I started volunteering when I was about 12, joining the leadership team to help the lower belt-level students(But also to cut my mom some slack from waiting around.) Black Belt Excellence wasn't just a place to learn martial arts; it was also a hub of values that shaped me. Some of the values I learned just through training, but some of the most important ones came from volunteering. One skill that stood out as crucial was communication. 

Volunteering taught me how to offer constructive feedback and communicate in a genuinely helpful way. In the beginning, I was inexperienced so I was more general, I would say "Your timing was off." But pretty quickly, I realized that such feedback didn't provide much insight, and it wasn't encouraging. So, I changed my approach. I started giving feedback that was more detailed and positive. For example, instead of just pointing out the issue, I'd say something like, "I noticed that you're not fully turning into your kicks, which might make you lose power. Maybe you could try turning your hips more during the kick? It could really help you get some more power."

This new way of correcting made a big difference. Students seemed to appreciate the more specific and understanding feedback. They understood their mistakes better while also being more motivated to work on them. This shift in how I communicated didn't just improve their techniques; it created a more positive atmosphere of learning and respect in the dojang.

Being a volunteer felt good too, being wanted and appreciated for the work you were doing, and sharing your knowledge and abilities to create a positive impact on the community felt great. Not just that but volunteering also helps to teach essential skills. Even if you are already an expert, being a volunteer offers unique challenges and opportunities to grow. Volunteering shows you new perspectives and people, allowing you to refine your leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. The lessons I learned during my time as a volunteer continue to shape my perspective, and the skills I learned continue to help me in my day-to-day life.

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Adventures In Volunteering - A Part Of Our Heritage

Published: Nov 1, 2023 @ 11:16 AM

As snowflakes danced delicately through the wintry air, Jeff, a diligent University of Calgary student, found himself embarking on a unique journey. The opportunity arose during the festive Christmas season when he engaged in a group volunteering experience at Heritage Park. Little did Jeff know that this experience would not only deepen his understanding of Calgary's diverse history but also leave an indelible mark on his own life.

Nestled on the outskirts of Calgary, Heritage Park stood as a living monument to the city's past. As Jeff walked through the gates adorned with festive decorations, he was immediately transported back in time to an era marked by horse-drawn carriages, Victorian architecture, and the rustic charm of a bygone age. Luckily, he didn’t need a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to make the journey!

Jeff's volunteering involved various tasks, from decorating traditional Christmas trees to assisting with historical reenactments. Immersed in the spirit of the season, he found himself interacting with visitors and embracing the myriad stories that Heritage Park held within its walls. Each day brought a new adventure, one day he would find himself immersed in the role of a cashier in the penny candy store, another day he would be the editor-in-chief at the local printing press!

One particular afternoon, as Jeff stood amidst the historically preserved buildings adorned with festive wreaths, he met a historian who shared captivating anecdotes about the early settlers' struggles and triumphs in establishing Calgary. Jeff's eyes widened with curiosity and admiration, realizing how much these stories resonated with his own personal journey of establishing himself as a first generation Canadian navigating the Calgary community.

The Christmas ambiance added a special touch to this historical exploration. Wreathed in the scent of freshly cut pine and the sounds of carolers, Jeff discovered a harmonious blend of past and present. The experience became a poignant reminder of the deep cultural roots woven into the fabric of the city. Through this experience Jeff could also envision where he fit, as an integral part of Calgary’s rich culturally diverse tapestry.

As the volunteering days passed, Jeff found himself not just partaking in the park's activities but contributing to its preservation. His involvement in reviving historical customs and practices ignited a sense of pride in being a custodian of Calgary's heritage.

The experience at Heritage Park during the holiday season turned out to be a transformative journey for Jeff. It wasn't just about learning the history from books; it was about living, breathing, and experiencing the past firsthand. The vivid encounters with Calgary's diverse legacy left an indelible impression on Jeff, shaping his perspective and instilling a newfound sense of belonging for the eager young volunteer.

At the end of his assignment, Jeff's time at Heritage Park during Christmas became more than just a volunteering stint. It became a voyage through time, an eye-opening experience that unraveled the layers of Calgary's diverse past, and a personal journey that left Jeff with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the vibrant historical mosaic that Calgary proudly embodies.

 

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Volunteering is Terrific

Published: Oct 25, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

This week we are featuring a guest blog from Rachel Wong. Rachel is a lifelong volunteer within Calgary’s Chinese community. She started volunteering when at 9 years old and have been continuously involved with the community since then! 

Volunteering is Terrific

Community is such an integral part of society. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see people coming together to help others, whether it be helping to provide basic necessities, or rallying together to promote a good cause, volunteering is a terrific way to help connect with and uplift others. 

So when 2020 rolled around, and the world went into lockdown, community was needed more than ever. As I moved back home from university at the end of the school year, 3 veteran Chinatown community members contacted me to ask if I would be interested in helping them spearhead a social media campaign that would encourage Calgarians to support their local businesses. It was called #AddOilYYC. We had a total of 5 youths on our team, with me as team lead, plus the 3 veteran community members as our mentors that guided us through the process. We hosted daily giveaways on Instagram and Facebook where the prizes were gift certificates to local restaurants. The giveaways gained attention pretty quickly, and soon we cumulated over 900 followers on our Instagram page, and over 200 likes on Facebook. Calgarians entered not only for a chance at winning a gift certificate but also to share their love for the businesses that enrich our communities.  

Alongside the very successful daily giveaways, we would also go out into the community and interview local businesses and publish them on our website. This was by far my favourite part of the campaign. I was quite familiar with many of the establishments we interviewed, but getting to interview and learn more about their stories made me appreciate all the hard work they had put into building up their businesses. Being able to write up their stories in a way that was able to capture their spirit and love for what they do was truly a special experience for me. I hope that I’ll be able to do more of it in the future!

#AddOilYYC really helped me connect further with the community that I had been volunteering with for so long. I also got to connect with new people who were eager to support their fellow community members. This experience is still very special to me because it allowed me to look behind the scenes of some of these businesses and see what makes Calgary such a vibrant and colourful place that I’m proud to call home.

 

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