Latest News | Nathan Ahamed

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!



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!



Volunteering In Panama

Published: Aug 24, 2023 @ 10:32 AM

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a friend about volunteering in Panama.

As an expat living in Panama, she wanted to volunteer in an area she was passionate about. After landing at Ronald McDonald House, she started volunteering without speaking much Spanish. In recent articles, I've talked about the value of volunteering, not just for the community, but for the volunteer. As Dr. Wayne Dyer put it, “The more we give away, the more is given to us.” For Caleigh, this rang true. Her outlook and positive experience encouraged me, and I thought it would be great to share her journey with our followers here at Volunteer Connector.

N: How did you go about finding a place to volunteer?

C: I wanted to do something in health care, but that's one of the protected industries in Panama. So, getting into health care was quite tricky. There were many barriers. So naturally, the second thing was to volunteer in that same space. That's how I got connected to someone at the Ronald McDonald House.

N: Can you talk a little about what it was like to volunteer in a place where you don’t speak the language?

C: I was super nervous about going there. Many of the families coming there are from the country's interior, so they don't speak English or, if they do, it’s very limited—and my Spanish isn't very good either. So, I was nervous about how I would connect with these people. How am I going to do anything with them? That was intimidating to me. But I quickly realized that people just want to be understood and heard. The basic needs of people are the same, whether you can communicate with them or not. My experience is that most people are friendly and will try to connect with you even if you don't speak the same language. Smiles are universal.

N: Did you find volunteering helpful in your journey to learn Spanish?

C: Yes. In my journey to learn Spanish, I find you just have to figure it out. I would practice a lot with my Spanish teacher. If I was bringing an activity, game, or puzzle, I would practice explaining it with my Spanish teacher before going. The more I started coming to the Ronald McDonald House, the more people interacted with me and made an effort to speak slowly and more simply. It was very endearing. Through volunteering, I could help them in a way, and then it was like they were returning the favor by speaking slowly or practicing with me. It felt like a give-and-take relationship. It was symbiotic. That definitely helps with the Spanish.

N: If you could give advice to someone looking to volunteer in a country or a place where there might be barriers such as culture or language, what would you say to push them to do it?

C: Don't let the barriers overwhelm or stop you because, at the end of the day, all humans in their basic needs are the same. And across different cultures and different languages, you'll find that we're more alike than we are different.

Honestly, there's little for me to add. Be encouraged. Whatever barrier you thought was between you and volunteering, there’s a way to overcome it. If you believe something disqualifies you from serving in a field you are passionate about, don’t let that stop you from trying. There will always be a way.



Better The World By Bettering Yourself

Published: Jun 29, 2023 @ 11:44 AM

Is it possible to change the world? Some days it takes more convincing than others. Our world is a big place with a long list of needs. The task feels rather daunting. Yet, we can often quantify change through compounding small actions. If you want to change the world, challenge yourself to shrink your scope. Look to better yourself first, and by doing so, equip yourself to change the world around you. All it takes is one person to impact a community. If you want to start the journey of self-improvement, here are three intentional behaviors to engage in.

Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a great starting point to self-improvement. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can improve emotional and mental health—even going so far as to have long-lasting positive effects on brain chemistry and behavior. There are two ways to make this a regular practice in your daily life.

  • Journaling. Every day, write down a few things you’re grateful for. If you are someone who already journals, add this to your routine. Set a static number and challenge yourself to reflect on new things daily.
  • Meditation. Set aside time each day and meditate on what you are grateful for. You can also take this a step further and say them out loud. Use sticky notes or a reminder on your phone to help make this a regular practice.

As a chef by trade and someone who enjoys good food, I remind myself to be grateful every time I open the fridge. It’s a simple practice that keeps me mindful that having food to eat and access to clean drinking water is a privilege. Practicing gratitude daily can increase your positive impact on those around you by increasing empathy and compassion for those in need.

Engage in selflessness

If you genuinely desire to see a change in the world around you, shifting your focus from inward to outward is vital. A National Library of Medicine study links selfless behavior patterns with happiness. While many other factors can weigh in and findings should not be considered definitive, their conclusions about relating selflessness to distinct happiness are fascinating. While selflessness is easier said than done, you can start by applying two simple practices in your everyday life.

  • Random acts of kindness. There are opportunities to meet needs around us every day. These acts can be as simple as helping someone carry groceries, shovel the snow, or offer to babysit, housesit, or dog walk. This practice will train you to become aware of the needs in your community and city.
  • Uplift others with words. An encouraging word to a friend, romantic partner, co-worker, or stranger can be a monumentally positive boost in their day. The more we learn about verbal encouragement, the more research shows the massive positive impact it can have on our lives.

While these two practices are theoretically simple, they might be new learned behaviors. Start off easy by practicing with trusted individuals you consider a safe space and slowly gain the confidence to make them commonplace in your everyday life.

Increase generosity

The third and final behaviour for self-improvement is generosity. While directly benefiting others, this practice has a significant positive impact on those who engage in it. One study out of UC Berkeley found that generosity activates the same reward pathways as food and sex. If you desire to be more generous, you can put generosity into action in two main ways.

  • Give your money. People, communities, and organizations require money to exist. There’s no way around it. Some simple ways to engage in generosity with your money are to buy someone a coffee, donate to the food bank, or find an organization that serves in an area you are passionate about and contribute to them.
  • Give your time. Time can be equally or more valuable than money. For some without means, it can be easier to give—but sometimes, it can also be scarcer. You can be generous with your time by visiting an elderly person, participating in a neighbourhood cleanup, or finding a local organization needing volunteers.

Generosity in both areas is a significant step to making the world around you a better place. In theory, any need can be met by one of these two things. If you want to start practicing generosity, consider what you can offer, research causes you are passionate about, and decide how to best give.

Be the change

The exciting thing about gratitude, selflessness, and generosity is that these three behaviors are wildly contagious. Others will notice what you are doing and the way it is changing how you go about life. The positivity from these three practices will be noticeable, tangible, and highly effective in enacting positive change, both within yourself and the world around you.

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change toward him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi.



Election Time - Prioritizing What Matters

Published: May 25, 2023 @ 12:42 PM

It's election time in Alberta. Many feelings surround this event, and not all of them are positive. For some sectors in the non-profit world, an election can mean uncertainty. A new government could mean new priorities, budgets, and funding. As a result, there is a level of fear and concern, not just for agencies that do good in many communities but also for the jobs and livelihoods they provide. It’s a shame that issues surrounding volunteerism, or even meeting basic needs, have become partisan instead of just being about helping people. Sometimes it's hard not to feel discouraged.

At times, it can feel as if we care more about the colour of the campaign billboard than the greater good. It's no longer about doing what's best; it's about being right. More than ever, we need to learn, or relearn, how to have healthy discourse. When we stop trying to understand where others are coming from, when we stop caring about opinions and perspectives different than ours, we lose our ability for empathy. Regarding politics, astrophysicist turned pop culture personality Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “Without rational discourse among ourselves and our elected representatives, we are non-interacting stovepipes on the brink of burning down the house.”

Committing to learning and understanding is vital if the goal is to better ourselves, our province, and our country. So let's get into the habit of hearing each other out. Let’s get into the practice of having compassion for each other's struggles and perspectives. Let’s make empathy commonplace in our discourse. If you're struggling with your decision to vote, I would encourage you to do two things. First, use the Vote Compass tool to see where you might lie on the political spectrum. Second, do your research. If you value community building and support for those in need, research different parties' policies surrounding those topics.

So where can you go from here? Find the needs in your community and equip yourself and those around you to meet them. How can you make a difference? Don’t wait for someone else to tell you where you should serve. VolunteerConnector exists for this very purpose, a way to connect volunteers to causes. If you are passionate about something, about helping somehow, there is more than likely a space for you to serve.

As always, I wish to encourage everyone reading to remember our privilege. Our privilege of democracy is the freedom to choose our leaders and not feel threatened or afraid to go out and vote. So honor this privilege, don’t take this freedom for granted, and go vote.



What Are The Numbers Saying?

Published: May 2, 2023 @ 8:50 AM

Earlier this year, Statistics Canada released their 2022 fourth-quarter data on volunteering. It is essential to understand the results and see what trends might be appearing. The numbers convey the narrative that volunteerism is down, but they may not be accurately telling the whole story. Nevertheless, we can use these statistics to gauge trends, and if organizations pay attention, it's possible to increase volunteerism in areas that might be experiencing a lack.

The Generation Gap

Gen Z boasts the highest rate of volunteering across Canada. Young people are passionate about helping and have developed an understanding of the personal benefits that accompany it. Volunteer recruitment needs to learn to engage every generation to volunteer at all levels. Organizations should determine the demographics of their volunteers and assess why they are attracting or lacking in specific areas. Take time to learn the motivations of different individuals. For example, many younger volunteers surveyed cited increasing job prospects or college applications as the reason for volunteering. We must understand what motivates other generations, such as the social benefits of volunteering, the valuable service to a community, or religious causes. Once an organization understands these motivations and how to apply them to recruitment, it can see growth in those demographics.

Needs of organizations run by visible minorities

Over 90% of Black and West-Asian-run organizations surveyed in Canada stated a shortage of volunteers. What does that actually mean, and how do we address that need? First, it's vital to understand that those living within a community are the best equipped to serve their respective communities. They have knowledge and experience of the struggles unique to those communities. Therefore, it's crucial to support those communities that are experiencing a lack of help by supporting those organizations that already exist within them. A big step towards decolonizing volunteerism is understanding that racialized communities don't require others to "save" them. Understanding racial barriers and how formal volunteerism may not be the right path for every community and organization is crucial. These communities have the ability to empower their own, and those organizations within the communities should be supported, not replaced.

Grassroots AND established organizations

Another trend from the data is the difference in volunteer engagement between older and younger organizations. The survey stated that only 3% of organizations under two years old were experiencing volunteer shortages, while 63% of organizations over 20 experienced the same deficits. There are two possible reasons for this trend. First, individuals might overlook long-standing institutions because, sometimes, the “crisis of the day” takes priority over long-term work. The news cycle often dominates where our time and money go. Sometimes timely and immediate support is necessary, but sustainability is crucial to meeting many community needs. Long-term organizations and volunteering can be a massive help to the stability of specific communities or advancing structural change.

The second explanation for the volunteer disparity is that individuals deem these older organizations out of touch. Grassroots initiatives are on the rise, which can lead to the decline of formal volunteering institutions. Research has shown that the pandemic exposed the gaps between traditional volunteerism and the need for grassroots organizations in some sectors. Determining what needs exist in communities and how individuals wish to meet those needs is crucial to the success of organizations that rely on volunteers.

Going forward

It is vital for organizations seeking volunteers to properly communicate the value they give to the community and the volunteer. The benefits of volunteerism can change the life of an individual as well as positively impact a community in need. The needs of communities within Canada are significant. How we attempt to serve communities and meet those needs will be dictated by those who wish to make a difference and how they wish to volunteer. If you're not listening or paying attention, that is when you will feel the decline in numbers. Not because there is no one out there to give of their time.



Be Selfish, Volunteer

Published: Mar 1, 2023 @ 8:56 AM

The benefits of volunteerism

Volunteering is often heralded as an act of selflessness—a way of serving your community. Give of your time and make the world around you better! On many levels, this is true. Of course, we should do what we can to help others in need and contribute to our community. But what mustn’t be overlooked are the secondary benefits of volunteering — self-improvement and personal growth.

What's in it for me?

Volunteering is a way to give back to your community, build relationships, and improve your well-being. It can also provide personal development and growth; volunteering can be a tremendous building block, personally and professionally.

Additionally, if you are an organization that relies on volunteers, you should be conscious of the personal benefits of volunteering. The volunteer retention rate is significantly higher when individual volunteers are engaged personally, focusing on their skills and interests.

Three benefits to the volunteer

Personal Fulfillment

Some individuals spend their whole lives in search of meaning and purpose. The ultimate question then becomes — where do you find it? Are you fulfilled by your job and success in your career? Do purpose and fulfillment come from family or community? Do you derive purpose from a religious belief? Research suggests that in the same way we find fulfillment at work, we can find personal fulfillment and meaning through volunteering (Caraveo, 2022). If you are considering volunteering or wondering where to serve, consider the things that provide you with personal fulfillment and look for an opportunity to serve in a related area.

Skill Development

Have you ever tried to get a job that requires more experience than you have? How are you meant to obtain said experience? Volunteering is the answer. In a Deloitte survey, 86% of respondents stated that putting volunteer activities on your resume improves your chance of getting hired.

Even if you’re not looking to bolster your resume, if you are a person committed to life-long learning and growth, volunteering can be an excellent tool for personal development. Research on skill-based volunteering tells us two things — volunteers are more fulfilled when they serve based on their skill set, and there is an opportunity in volunteering to learn or develop more skills. (Dempsey-Branch & Shantz 2022).

Building Community

If you are part of a friend group, religious group, or co-workers who have volunteered together, you understand the camaraderie of serving together. If you want to find a community or make friends, volunteering can be the perfect place. If you want to spend time helping at an organization you are passionate about, the odds are high that you will meet someone there with like-minded passions and interests. Meeting new people can also provide an opportunity to grow your professional circle. You never know whom you are going to meet when you volunteer.

The privilege of finding purpose

Remembering that we volunteer out of a position of privilege is important. Not only do we volunteer out of our spare time, but we can also seek meaning, purpose, and community through these activities because we can meet our basic daily needs. Because we don’t lack the necessary support to help us meet certain responsibilities. Because we don’t live under the threat of famine and war. We must understand that it’s out of privilege that we can seek out and ponder the answers to these existential questions of self-fulfillment and growth.

So next time you want to better yourself, learn a new skill, or make a new friend, consider finding a place to volunteer and do some good in the process.



Time Is Money - Guest Blog

Published: Jan 25, 2023 @ 8:18 AM

Understanding the privilege of having more time

The saying ‘time is money’ has been around for ages. Benjamin Franklin popularized the term in his 18th-century essay “Advice to a Young Tradesmen.” Since then, there has increasingly been a shift in the mindset around time and how to spend it. In general, societal and technological advancements have given us more spare time. The question then becomes: how do we spend it? In the volunteering sector, we can go one step further and consider how one’s spare time compares to others.

Being aware of your privilege

Much of our view on privilege centers around money. Growing up without having to think about money is a privilege. If you grew up without worrying about where your next meal came from, that is a privilege. If you didn’t need to get a job to support your family as soon as you were old enough to work, that is also a privilege. If you can retire and live off a pension, investments, or savings, that is also a privilege. If time is money, we should consider having spare time a privilege.

All the time in the world

How do we gauge this privilege of time? You might get a different answer for every person you ask. But to get a general idea you can look at the American Time Use Study (2022). This study found that 96 percent of people aged 15 and over, spend an average of 5.25 hours a day on leisure activities. This includes things like exercise, watching TV, and socializing. Social media drives a lot of our modern culture. It's no surprise that the Canadians Internet Report (2022) reveals that on average, Canadians spend one hour and fifty-three minutes daily on various social media platforms. The purpose of highlighting these statistics is not to shame anyone — leisure time is important. The purpose is to understand that in general, we have an excess of time for leisure. But that is not true for every person.

Volunteering is a privilege

In 2021, almost one million Canadians held two or more jobs (Statista 2021). The number of single-parent homes in Canada has risen to almost two million (Statista 2022). If you were to survey these families, a common theme you might find would be a lack of time. It's important to understand that when a person volunteers, they do so out of the privilege of having spare time. It is out of this privilege that individuals can give their time to local non-profits, schools their children attend, or religious institutions.

Volunteering with humility and purpose

Too often, volunteering is not only a way of doing good but to be seen as doing good. Volunteering can be a good thing. It can provide invaluable support to communities that lack certain resources, while also providing a sense of purpose or fulfillment to volunteers. What it should not be, is something that elevates your status over others. Specifically, those who do not have the privilege of time to volunteer similar hours, or volunteer at all.

Instead of thinking about how being a volunteer can serve you best, shift your mindset. How could you change your community if you sought out the most practical ways to serve it? How can you champion community initiatives that best support those without the privilege of extra time? Grocery delivery, meal-sharing, and after-school programs are all practical ways of giving people more time. Just something to think about when deciding how and where to serve. And remember — a little awareness and humility go a long way.



Wakanda Forever - Guest Blog

Published: Dec 5, 2022 @ 2:09 PM

Our Heroes and Why Representation Matters

With Halloween fresh in the rear-view mirror, and Wakanda Forever taking over the box office, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about heroes. When I recall the painstaking process of choosing a Halloween costume as a kid, one issue sticks out: I had no clue what I wanted to be. Often I ended up dressing up as a chef (after my dad), a ninja, or a pirate. It was always something generic that could be easily thrown together. Looking back, I realize that a major contributing factor was not feeling that I looked like my favourite characters – Superman, Batman, or those in the Star Wars universe at the time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun to change this in a big way. With Black Panther, Shang Chi, and most recently Wakanda Forever, there now exists superheroes for Black, Chinese, and Mexican kids (and adults) to see themselves reflected in.

What does this have to do with volunteering? When I look back at the lack of representation on the big screen, I also am reminded of real-life heroes. Closer to home, other than my father, whenever there was someone to look up to, there was a lack of people who looked like me. To be clear, it’s not something I could have communicated to anyone at the time. Looking back, I realize that there was a lack of diversity in volunteers at the schools, community events, and churches I attended. When I think about the “role models” like policemen, firemen, or musicians who came to speak at a school assembly, I can’t recall a single person of colour among them. As an adult, I can now see the community around me lacked diversity. But as a child, you are often unable to choose the adults that surround you, and potentially influence you.

This is my experience. And I know I am not alone in this. Representation in volunteerism gives people—especially children—role models they can picture themselves being like. It provides an example of a person they can model themselves after. It gives them a hero—someone they can act like, someone they can dress like, and someone they can serve like. Proper representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) volunteers in communities will increase the likelihood of inspiring people of all ages to serve their communities. Representation in volunteering has the potential to support communities in organic service rather than traditional charitable or philanthropic efforts.

I did not live in communities with large numbers of BIPOC individuals growing up. Organizations must increase representation on every level and in every community because it's not just important for the BIPOC kid to see themselves reflected in a role model, but because it’s also imperative to seek diversity across communities to increase inclusion and social cohesion. It starts at the grassroots with volunteers and ensuring barriers for racialized individuals to participate are meaningfully addressed. Therefore, organizations must increase representation on every level, in every community—not just those with higher BIPOC populations. We must also set out to encourage people of colour to seek out places to serve and provide a positive influence for the next generation. Because in the end, everyone needs heroes.