Baby boomer volunteering

For the past few months I have been volunteering as an office administrator with Volunteer Canada. After many years in the child care field, I made the difficult decision to change careers. I took some courses in order to upgrade my marketable skills and while looking for a permanent position, I decided to do some volunteer work. Volunteering at Volunteer Canada has given me the opportunity to further develop my skills, as well as given me the confidence needed to integrate into a new field. The staff has been incredibly supportive and I immediately felt part of the team. The work that I have engaged in is both stimulating and rewarding and I have gained a great deal personally, as well as professionally from the experience. One significant personal benefit is the sense of purpose and commitment that I get from being engaged as a volunteer and how it has helped to alleviate the stresses associated with searching for work and being unemployed. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity, this experience has been fulfilling. – Liz Briggs

Employer supported/workplace volunteering

Eric Egan is a team player who understands the importance of breakfast – and the role it plays in student success. After researching a variety of group volunteer opportunities, he started volunteering for Nutrition for Learning at a Kitchener elementary school last September. Eric is part of a volunteer team from Manulife Financial–which, he notes, has grown from 16 members to 30 dedicated professionals, including his director and Assistant Vice President, all supporting their company’s signature cause: volunteering.

Five team members per day spend an early morning hour preparing hot and cold breakfasts, serving the students and preparing for the next day. He smiles as he tells of the flurry of coats and hats as 60 students rush in 10 minutes before class. All of the volunteers work together to make sure the students can enjoy a quick and hearty breakfast.

“It’s that simple,” he says, “just being early, talking with the kids, and interacting positively. It’s encouraging to see how a small time commitment can make such an impact…And it’s not just me–it’s the team. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to go help, knowing I have a team as excited as I am behind me.”

Eric says the impact from volunteering can be surprising.For example, he explains how he passed the test of a young foodie-in-the-making. When a student approached Eric with skepticism over the merits of a breakfast sandwich, Eric emphasized how the cheese had been melted perfectly — pointing out the cheese bubbles.After that, the student took the sandwich with a massive grin. It was a small moment, but a memorable one.

“I didn’t think I’d connect as much,” he says about the students, “but it’s amazing how quickly they connect with you.”

This volunteer story was written as part of an ongoing project at the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area.  For more stories visit http://volunteersinspiringcommunity.wordpress.com/

Family volunteering

In today’s world we are all so busy.  There are so many things to do, so many schedules to meet and lessons to take kids to.   Amidst all of it, I think one of the greatest lessons you can give your child is to reach out to others.  Listen to the hearts of your children because they will tell you wants important to them. It could be helping the homeless, a food bank or reaching out to a humane society.  I don’t think it matters where you volunteer, your family will benefit and the world benefits and becomes a better place because you are all contributing to your community.  As a family, you become closer and your children can develop a very rich character. –Nancy McPhee

Youth volunteering

My inspiring volunteer experience occurred approximately 6 years ago.  I had just moved to Calgary from another province and decided to “be bold” and sign up to do something I had thought about for years – volunteering at a Distress Centre.  This type of volunteer work had always somewhat intimidated me because I thought, “what if you said something wrong to a vulnerable client over the phone?”  The implications were daunting.  Yet I bit the bullet and trudged ahead, making it through the training and the 1 year commitment, and ended up volunteering for another year and a half.  Through this volunteer experience I met some awesome people and caring, talented staff.  I also did something I feared and thought I’d never really do. Lastly, I learned that the people who call in are really just like you or me and wish to speak to someone who will listen with genuineness and empathy.” –Diana Bumstead

I used to view volunteering as a chore required for graduation until I discovered a passion that matched my personal interests. I went from a regular unenthusiastic teen, to sitting on various city youth boards and developing my very own volunteer campaigns.  Through these experiences I saw an opportunity to really make a difference in the nonprofit sector and bridge the gap between youth and volunteerism.  I began mobilizing committees, developing the Passion for Progress campaign with the Volunteer Action Centre and stepping forward as a youth advocate across Ontario. My mission through my various projects is to inspire even a few youth to pick a volunteer opportunity that matches their interests, with the hopes that maybe they will discover a passion and interest in volunteering like I did. A person has the ability to make on impact in the world, no matter how small they may think that impact may be….it all gives back to the greater community.” –Kelly Lovell