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Why Wouldn't You Want to Give Back?

Published: Jul 10, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome guest blog writer Aaqib Rahim. Aaqib was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan and has called the vibrant country of Canada home since 2013. Back in March 2020,

I applied through the VolunteerConnector website to volunteer with the Tetra Society of North America. Following this, I was then approached by Annae Jones, the Chapter Coordinator at that time. Even though, my stance initially was never to land a volunteering position at a non-profit specifically having seen Annae’s enthusiasm, kind, and welcoming gesture, despite being physically handicapped I felt almost obliged to accept her proposal. Simply put, having witnessed this, my perception regarding what it is like to volunteer at a non-profit changed significantly. I now hold the opinion that we must try our best to benefit our local and regional communities as much as possible to then ensure that both the environment as well as the nature are adequately preserved and taken care of. What incentivised me the most however was the fact that I would be helping in making a notable contribution upon the lives of the vulnerable individuals. These past four and a half years have helped me grow in confidence substantially. Tetra Society of North America provides valuable incentives for their volunteers. In that, all their volunteers are given out a small token of appreciation such as gift cards. Now thanks to this immeasurable experience I could apply elsewhere as well if I really wanted to. All that is required of me in this position at Tetra as an outreach volunteer is to promote the organization efficiently and effectively. That said, this then enables Tetra Society of North America in effectively attracting potential volunteers. In addition to which, provided the awareness methods are efficient Tetra is also able to help expand its reach across the various other Chapters (cities). Throughout my time here with Tetra Society of North America I have always felt welcomed and appreciated. That said, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been gifted the opportunity of giving back to the community. In my opinion, it is the little acts of generosity such as these that make up a significant difference, consequently bettering our livelihoods. So, let me ask you this: why wouldn’t you want to give back to your local community?

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Celebrating Community Spirit and Strengthening Ties in Coquitlam

Published: Jun 26, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome as a guest blog our wonderful colleague from the coast- Danielle George. Danielle is originally from Kansas, USA, she has fostered over 20 cats, dogs (see this guy with a fancy bowtie) and rabbits in the past 4 years! She is a roller derby aficionado and believes strongly that food is love. Danielle is a brilliant community leader at Volunteer Connections in Coquitlam, BC. 

Celebrating Community Spirit: The Community Connections & Volunteer Fair-On June 9th, the Port Coquitlam Community Centre buzzed with excitement as it hosted the Community Connections & Volunteer Fair. This vibrant event, a collaboration between Community Volunteer Connections and The City of Port Coquitlam, brought together community members from all walks of life to explore a myriad of opportunities to get involved locally.

A Day of Discovery and Connection-The free-to-attend fair was a resounding success, drawing in over 250 attendees eager to learn about how they could contribute to and benefit from their community. The heart of the fair was the diverse array of 28 organizations, each one dedicated to various causes and activities. These organizations provided information on local clubs, societies, summer programs, and the volunteer needs of area non-profits. Attendees had the chance to engage with representatives, ask questions, and find opportunities that matched their interests and availability.

Workshops: Learning and Creating Together- In addition to the booths, the event featured three workshops led by local organizations. These sessions covered a range of important topics impacting the community, like the pressing issue of the toxic drug crisis, and where to get resources for help. Another workshop offered a creative outlet with a hands-on activity to build hearts out of woven willow branches, bringing participants together through shared artistic expression.

A Hub for All-The Community Connections & Volunteer Fair was designed to serve as a vital link for various groups within the community. Seniors and retirees found new ways to stay active and involved, newcomers discovered avenues to integrate and contribute, students explored volunteer opportunities to complement their studies, and families enjoyed a day out learning and connecting together.

Strengthening Community Ties-Events like the Community Connections & Volunteer Fair are essential for building and maintaining strong community bonds. They provide platforms for individuals to find their place within the community, support local organizations, and work together towards common goals. The fair was not just about volunteering; it was about creating a sense of belonging and mutual support. The success of the event is a testament to the dedication of Community Volunteer Connections and The City of Port Coquitlam, as well as the participating organizations and enthusiastic attendees. Their collective efforts have fostered a more connected, informed, and engaged community. As the day came to a close, there was a palpable sense of accomplishment and optimism. The Community Connections & Volunteer Fair had not only highlighted the many ways to get involved locally but also reinforced the idea that a connected community is a thriving community. Here’s to more events like this, bringing people together and making a positive impact in the Tri-Cities areas.

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Hockey Culture and Sexual Abuse

Published: May 20, 2024 @ 11:04 AM

What is happening, and what can we do about it?

Every Canadian grows up surrounded by hockey. It’s a pillar of culture and pride in our nation. As a country that boasts some of the longest and coldest winters on the planet, the sport is a bright spot nationally and globally. Frozen ponds and community rinks are home to rites of passage like lacing up for the first time, pushing a chair across the ice, and the inevitable bumps and bruises that follow. 

But what happens when the pride of our beloved pastime is marred by a culture that perpetuates sexual assault and protects the abusers? The problem lies in multiple areas: a legal system that doesn’t support victims—especially women, a locker room culture that ignores unhealthy behaviors and hazing, and inept leadership at the highest levels of Hockey Canada. It seems we can't go a few months without hearing of a new case, and these terrible accounts of assault are beginning to overshadow any gold medal or championship. All eyes will be on the reopened 2018 sexual assault case involving five Canadian hockey players as London Police have committed to justice and reform.

It can be easy to feel helpless when you see continued injustice committed against women and young players. Part of the solution is to help lobby for change. Take the initiative to raise awareness and inform your local and national representatives that this issue matters. You can act by providing support for organizations that are helping those affected by sexual abuse. We must not wait on the sidelines for change but advocate for those affected by sexual abuse, work to prevent it, and reassess the systems perpetuating it. Several organizations in Calgary are striving to support victims of sexual abuse and provide education and awareness. You can volunteer or donate to these organizations to help make a difference.

Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, or CCASA, aims to educate and provide support for individuals affected by sexual harassment and abuse. They have been working in the space for 25 years and are always looking for volunteers to help spread awareness of their work. They also provide extensive training for volunteers on their support and information line.

Salal Sexual Violence Support Center has a 24-hour crisis and support line; they provide services to walk alongside those affected by sexual abuse, including counseling and court accompaniment. You can volunteer at fundraisers, at the crisis line, and with operations around the office.

CoSA Canada is actively advocating for legislative reform and working to provide research-based restorative justice programs. Their research shows that the chances of a second offense can be reduced by up to 80% with proper systems in place. Not only are they actively seeking volunteers, but they are also providing training for those who want to help in this space.

Little Warriors provides a safe space for children and youth who have been affected by sexual abuse. They focus on raising awareness through education, workshops, and research, as well as programs and treatment facilities to support those directly affected by trauma. They always look for donations to keep their programs running and volunteers to help run workshops and provide education.

All these organizations share the need to champion awareness and education. We must hold bodies like Hockey Canada, our lawmakers, and the police force accountable., It is equally imperative that we educate ourselves, our communities, and our children. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, all these organizations listed have someone you can reach out to for help. You can call 911 for emergencies or the non-emergency line (in Calgary) at 403-266-1234 to report sexual abuse.

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It All Began With a Cat!

Published: May 15, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome Gomathi Sridevi. Gomathi is an aspiring writer with a background in Journalism and a degree in Sociology. Her fascination with societal issues and a desire to articulate thoughts led her to pursue writing. Nurtured by a childhood habit of avidly reading newspapers, she found herself drawn to the world of storytelling. She is commited to exploring the depths of human experience and advocating for social justice as she continues to wield the power of words to inspire, inform, and empower others. 

The lingering fear from a childhood incident, a traumatic encounter with a dog while learning to ride a bicycle, had deeply influenced my relationship with animals. But, one unexpected event shook me out of my usual avoidance.  I was drawn in by a kitten's pitiful cries and decided to look into it. What awaited me was a heart-wrenching sight: a mother and father cat, visibly distressed, desperately attempting to reach their trapped kitten inside a water pipe. Despite my fear, I couldn't stand idly by while these animals suffered. The layout of our two-story house posed challenges in pinpointing the kitten's exact location within the water pipe. Driven by a sense of urgency, I attempted to dislodge the kitten by directing a stream of water into the pipe. However, my parents intervened, wisely cautioning against potential harm. My heart clenched as I listened to the kitten's plaintive cries echoing from within the pipe. I could feel its fear and isolation in the darkness, contrasting sharply with the comforting sounds of its parents' mewls outside, seeking to offer solace. With a professional plumber's assistance, we carefully dismantled the pipe, revealing the frightened kitten trapped in a corner. At that moment, as I reached out to comfort the trembling creature, something within me shifted. Despite my lifelong fear of animals, I felt an unexpected surge of connection. 

As I extended my index finger through the hole, my heart clenched at the sight of the trembling kitten, feeling its tiny paws grasp onto my finger tightly for comfort. I gently lifted it out and tenderly dried it with a cloth before reuniting it with its parents. A surge of emotion overwhelmed me when I caught the gaze of the larger cat as if it were expressing gratitude before turning away with its kitten. Whether it was my imagination or not, I sensed a silent acknowledgement in those expressive eyes.

The satisfaction I derived from aiding this tiny being ignited a desire within me to extend my assistance to others in need. It wasn't merely about helping animals find their way back home; it was about offering solace and support to any living being that had lost its path. With a heart now open to the possibility of making a difference, I embarked on a journey of compassion, seeking out opportunities to lend a helping hand wherever it was needed. Whether it was comforting a frightened animal, offering aid to a struggling neighbour, or championing causes dear to my heart, I found fulfilment in acts of kindness, both big and small. In the simple act of rescuing a kitten, I discovered a profound truth: that the greatest reward lies not in receiving, but in giving. As I continued on this path of compassion, my heart beat with a newfound sense of purpose, guiding me toward a life filled with empathy, understanding, and boundless love for all living beings.

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Creativity for a Cause

Published: Apr 3, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome guest writer Pallavi Paul. Pallavi moved to Vancouver to complete an MBA and now calls it home. She has an intense interest in digital marketing and creating content. When not pursuing that interest, she can be found hiking, swimming, dancing and exploring the outdoors. 

I've always wanted to help those who require direction and inspiration to live their lives and see the bright side of any situation. In my previous role as a volunteer in social media marketing at Low Entropy, I had the chance to use my creative side to enhance online platforms while also bringing attention to mental health issues. I was a student at that time when I joined Low entropy so my focus was more on studies and working in a volunteering organization where I would learn to hone my marketing skills in social media platforms.

As this was my first-time volunteering, I realized how crucial it is to address certain issues in a community and work on it for a greater purpose.

 A few points I would like to highlight in my volunteer journey, even though it was a short one, I cherished the learnings I have acquired from it.

1.      Confidence: I gained a lot of confidence in working independently. It’s an essential skill that will help me in a work environment as I don’t have to rely on someone to give me the instructions. It takes time to develop confidence and volunteering is a great place to start with.

2.      Time management: I was always attentive to my time management skill and juggling between studies, part time work and volunteering helped me to stay focused. My ability to be organized and productive at work also helped.

3.      Attentive to audience needs: The best part that happened to me is I became more aware of the audience while writing content or posting in social media. It’s a great way to showcase my creativity and think from people’s perspective instead of focusing on myself. 

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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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