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What's It Like To Volunteer For...Meals on Wheels?

Posted By Samantha Glave, Volunteer Guest Blogger, February 29, 2016
Updated: February 26, 2016
 Michael and client talking by car

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Population Served: people who need extra support, elderly persons, vulnerable adults, caregivers, people who need help getting through a difficult time 

 photo of Michael Stipetic
 Michael Stipetic, volunteer with MOW
Being able to live in your own home with the ability to do everything for yourself isn’t a reality for everyone. Thankfully, forty years ago, a few volunteers had a vision that all community residents should have access to support services, which would allow them to maintain their independence, dignity and quality of life; and so began Meals on Wheels and More.

 

For over 40 years, this organization has been providing essential services to seniors and vulnerable adults in the North York area to assist them to live independently in their homes. Michael Stipetic is a driver and runner with the organization and has been since 2009. He volunteers once a week for two hours. Volunteer Toronto spoke with him about his experience.

     

 

What are some common assumptions people have about the volunteer work that you do?

MS: A common misconception is that everyone receiving Meals on Wheels (MOW) is elderly.

MOW not only provides services to elderly persons but also helps caregivers in need of extra support, people who aren’t feeling well enough to cook for themselves and those who need help to get through a difficult time in their lives. Low-cost and nutritious meals are delivered every day of the week, including boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables and convenient frozen options.

They can refer a transportation service to clients who need help getting to medical appointments, social events or who just want to get out to do some shopping! MOW has a social worker who provides information, coordination services and case management.  There is also a support group available for caregivers to join.

 

What type of training is provided?

MS: I was provided with on-the-job training. I had the opportunity to shadow another volunteer on the daily delivery route. The training lasted for two hours, and I was also provided with a detailed manual outlining the Meals on Wheels program.

 

What’s been challenging about your volunteer work?

MS: The driving routes can sometimes be a challenge depending on the number of clients and the weather. Being a driver with a good sense of direction and someone who is organized, adaptable and accepting of new challenges will contribute to your success in this type of volunteer work.


What have you learned from your volunteer work?

MS: Everybody requires aid in some capacity. Spending a small amount of time and putting forth a bit of effort can make a huge difference in someone's life. It can be as simple as picking up someone's newspaper or saying a kind greeting.

  

What is Michael’s advice to anyone looking to do this type of volunteer work? Just do it! He says that you will be surprised, as the one who gets the most help is YOU! To find out more about the different types of volunteer opportunities available at Meals on Wheels and More, including testimonials from other volunteers at this organization, click here!


Meals on Wheels volunteer opportunities available:

Meals on Wheels and More 

East York Meals on Wheels 

Canadian Red Cross Society


 

Watch this digital story to find out more about volunteering at Meals on Wheels and More

 

To discover other volunteer opportunities available to you, use Volunteer Toronto’s helpful search feature or contact one of our referral counsellors.

 

Samantha Glave is a writer and editor whose work is regularly published on the Ontario Public Service’s intranet. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching science-fiction, doing kettle bell workouts or reading the latest research on raising the ‘strong-willed’ child. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their six-year old son. 

You can find her on LinkedIn

Tags:  How to give back  Meals on Wheels  Serving others  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer Toronto  Volunteering  Ways to volunteer  What's It Like To Volunteer 

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5 Excellent Reasons To Attend Our Seniors Fair

Posted By Kelly Devries, Outreach Coordinator, February 22, 2016
Updated: February 19, 2016
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

On Wednesday, March 23 from 1:00pm- 4:00pm we’re bringing together 25+ non-profits in the North York area who are looking for senior volunteers. This event is taking place at the North York Memorial Community Hall in the Burgundy Room.

Whether planting a garden, reading with children, or meeting new people interests you this is a great event for you to attend. Here’s why:

 

1)  Share Your Skills

You have incredible skills and experience to share. You might have been a teacher, a custodian, a parent or shopkeeper, or you may know how to organize events or cook a meal for 20 people. Whatever skills and experience you’ve gained over the years, they’ll be non-profits out there who could use your help. Check out Claudius’ story to see what we mean.

 

2)  Find Out About Some Great Non-Profits

The non-profits that will be at the Seniors Volunteer Fair are impressive. We are talking about the Toronto Public Library, Hospice Toronto, Toronto Botanical Gardens, TIFF and Toronto City Cultural Events, to name a few. These organizations are doing amazing things like teaching people how to read, providing end-of-life care, exploring natural beauty, discovering cutting-edge cinematography and celebrating our city. Find out how you can lend a hand and help them with the great things they are doing.

 

3)  Volunteering Leads To Endless Possibilities

People gain in all sorts of ways from volunteering.  Imagine the relationships you could develop, the things you could learn about yourself, the joy you could feel…. The possibilities are endless. Check out Susan’s story to learn how volunteering changed her life. 

 

4)  It’s Convenient

We are making finding a great volunteer opportunity convenient for you! The North York Memorial Community Hall is a one minute walk away from North York Centre TTC Station. The building is fully accessible. There is parking below. You’ll be able to meet 25+ great non-profits in your city. All of the organizations are looking for senior volunteers in North York. What could be better?

 

5)  Network and Meet Organizations In Person

A volunteer fair is a great way of meeting face-to-face with representatives from the organization, and potentially the person in the non-profit who manages  and recruits their volunteers. They’ll be able to learn more about you and you’ll be able to ask them questions too. You can find out crucial details like whether they provide TTC tokens, or how much of a commitment they expect, in order to see if the organization is a good fit for you. 

In addition to networking with employers, you can learn more about graduate studies and engagement opportunities. Networking is also valuable in establishing the necessary contacts that can help answer any more of your questions about the opportunities they are offering.

 

So what are you waiting for?We hope to see you at this incredible event!

If you have any questions check out our website or give me a call at
416-961-6888 ext 229.

 

 

Kelly DeVries is Volunteer Toronto's Community Engagement Coordinator. She coordinates a team of hardworking volunteers who represent Volunteer Toronto at community events. She is the voice of our Volunteer Times newsletter and assists the many events and programs we organize to inspire people in Toronto to volunteer.

Tags:  Retirement  Senior volunteering  Seniors  Skills  Toronto  Toronto seniors 

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I Love My Pink Shirt!

Posted By Kelly Devries, Outreach Coordinator, February 8, 2016
Updated: February 5, 2016
 
 Founders of Pink Shirt Day - Photo courtesy of Pink Shirt Day

 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes  

 

February 24 is Pink Shirt Day, a national day to raise awareness about bullying. Pink Shirt Day was started in Nova Scotia in 2007 when a male student wore a pink t-shirt on the first day of school and was bullied about being gay. Two senior students overhearing this, mobilized their school community to respond and the next day hundreds of students came to school wearing pink shirts. This awesome story showcases students creating community responses to harm and empowering others to do the same!

 

At its root, bullying is about discrimination and believing it’s okay to make fun of someone because they don’t fit into society’s mythical norms. There are many things you can do to empower students and fight the causes of bullying.

 

Here are just 5 ways you can get involved. To find the relevant opportunities available through Volunteer Toronto, search by the Category identified:   

 

Raise Awareness about Discrimination (Advocacy Positions)

Become involved in organizations that raise awareness about the diversity of people’s experiences and seek to create change. Whether it is promoting LGBTQ inclusion, educating about classism or advocating for those who live with disabilities, raising awareness plays an important role in combatting discrimination.

 

Be a Positive Role Model (Counselling/Mentorship Positions)

Mentorship plays an important role in empowering youth and allowing them to feel affirmed and heard. Having a positive role model, outside of school and home, can help youth explore opportunities, work towards goals and develop in exciting new ways!

 

Participate in Extracurricular Activities (Artistic Work/Crafting Positions or Recreation/Sports Positions)

Being involved in programming outside of school is imperative for youth with unique gifts and for those who don’t do well in classroom settings. Youth can truly shine learning a new instrument, playing sports or knitting scarves.  Recreational activities outside of school are important for youth’s personal growth and well-being.

 

Tutor Students (Teaching/Tutoring/Assistance Positions)

For some youth, school is difficult because they have trouble with literacy or understanding math and science concepts.  Volunteer tutors play a large role in assisting youth with school work and helping them to better engage with the material in the classroom.

 

Provide Counselling Support (Counselling/Mentorship)

Sometimes youth need someone to talk to. Providing support in-person or over the phone is important, whether in an on-going position or for youth in crisis.

 

On February 24, let’s celebrate those Nova Scotian youth who took a stand for inclusion and help empower other youth to do the same!

 
 Kelly Devries, Community Engagement Coordinator Kelly DeVries is Volunteer Toronto's Community Engagement Coordinator. She coordinates a team of hardworking volunteers who represent Volunteer Toronto at community events. She is the voice of our Volunteer Times newsletter and assists the many events and programs we organize to inspire people in Toronto to volunteer. 

Tags:  Anti-Bulling  Bulling  Education  Mental Health  Pink Shirt Day  Respect  Role Models  Toronto  Volunteer  Volunteering  Youth Mentorship 

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What's It Like To Volunteer For...A Women's Shelter?

Posted By Samantha Glave, Volunteer Guest Blogger, February 2, 2016
Updated: February 1, 2016
 Photo courtesy of The Redwood
 Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

Population Served: Women, Children

According to the City of Toronto, the emergency shelter system has grown rapidly and the face of homelessness has changed since the 1980s. As a result, the shelter system has become more specialized and flexible to meet new needs within the homeless population.

Volunteering in the shelter system allows you the opportunity to work with different populations, depending on the vision and mission of the specific organization. The Redwood is a women and children’s shelter in Toronto that aims to create a world where women and children live free from abuse and all other forms of violence and oppression, by offering programs and services that assist women and children to live and flourish without abuse, homelessness and poverty.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at a women’s shelter? Volunteer Toronto spoke with Sarah Robinson, a Children’s Programming Volunteer at the Redwood to give you some insight into what it’s like.

 

 

Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity


VT: What are some common assumptions people have about the volunteer work that you do?

SR: That it's restrictive, depressing or really hard. The staff are so considerate of my schedule; I never worry about having to change time or cancel. The work doesn't feel like work― I get to goof around with some of the coolest kids I've ever met, and I don't have the responsibility to get them to sleep at bedtime! It is so far from sad. Even on hard or challenging days, everyone is so supportive and uplifting. I always leave with a happy heart and feeling really glad that I went.



VT: What is the time commitment involved?

SR: The Redwood is really flexible and understanding with commitment changes, but I am usually in for 1 to 1 1/2 hours a week.




VT: What type of training is provided?  

SR: The Redwood provided training on child behaviour and the effects of violence on children and always has optional training sessions available, like Crisis Prevention Intervention, which I’ve found to be very helpful.




VT: What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteer work?

SR: I’ve been surprised at how quickly you bond with the staff, women and children. This has been the loveliest surprise. The Redwood has become a safe space for me on tough days. In the same way, developing a close bond makes it challenging when the women and children leave, but we are also happy for them.



VT: What advice do you have to give to anyone looking to do this type of volunteer work?

SR: Just try it! You'll be surprised by how easily it fits into and enriches your life.



VT: What skills and characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in your volunteer work?

SR: Patience, compassion and an open-mind (plus a dose of good humour) will help immensely when volunteering.    

  


Watch this digital story created by Redwood volunteer Yiran Shao about the myths surrounding shelters

 

Think this volunteer opportunity is restricted to women? Think again! When men volunteer at the Redwood they act as positive role models for the children at the shelter. If you have any more questions about volunteering at the Redwood, including how to start volunteering, visit their webpage.

To look for other volunteer opportunities, use Volunteer Toronto’s helpful search feature or contact one of our referral counsellors.


 

Samantha Glave is a writer and editor whose work is regularly published on the Ontario Public Service’s intranet.
When she’s not writing, you can find her watching science-fiction, doing kettle bell workouts or reading the
latest research on raising the ‘strong-willed’ child. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their six-year old son. 
You can find her on LinkedIn

 

Tags:  Helping a women's shelter  The Redwood  Toronto  Volunteer in a women's shelter  What's It Like To Volunteer  Women's Shelter 

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How To Use Your Passion For Fashion For Good!

Posted By Melissa Haughton, Volunteer Guest Blogger, January 26, 2016
Updated: January 26, 2016

 

Photo courtesy of New Circles

 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Toronto fashion scene is steadily coming into its own. Spend time sauntering down West Queen West or sailing through the Fashion District, and you’ll be hard-pressed to see anything but hordes of stylish folk showing off their ensembles.

If the release date for the September issue of Vogue is practically a holiday for you, or you strongly consider lining up at the crack of dawn for every H&M designer collaboration, maybe it’s time to consider lending some stylish support to a fashion non-profit. Here are some Toronto-based organizations to consider:


New Circles

Started in 2005, this organization provides services to those primarily in the Flemingdon Park, Thorncliffe Park, Victoria Village, and Crescent Town areas. New Circles operates a free gently used clothing store for low-income residents in the aforementioned areas. They also offer similar services specifically for teens, seniors and students attending prom. Gain valuable experience working with New Circles in customer service, fashion merchandising and donation processing.

 

Brands for Canada

This award-wining charity provides new donated clothing to Canadians living below the poverty line. The founders of Brands for Canada are the team behind Second Harvest, which provides donated surplus food to those in need. Partnering with agencies across Canada to deliver its mandate, there are many ways to lend a helping hand.

 

 

Toronto Fashion Incubator

If you want to get a head start in the fashion game, the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) is where many have gone to get their start. The TFI is a non-profit focused on creating a supportive community for fashion-industry creatives. Whether established or emerging, there are numerous opportunities to get involved in mentorship programs, networking events and resource exchanges.

 

 

Dress for Success

One of the largest-known fashion non-profits, this organization has been helping women since 1997. Dress for Success helps women strive for economic independence by providing them with a wardrobe to help them enter into the workforce. The organization currently operates in almost 150 cities in 20 countries, including Toronto. There are a number of ways to get involved, ranging from special events to inventory maintenance and mentorship.

 

 

 

Inside the Dream

Graduation expenses can accumulate quickly. For high school students who are unable to afford the associated costs, finishing high school can bring unnecessary stress. Inside The Dream aims to alleviate this burden by providing access to free formal wear for students each year on Boutique Days. 

The organization fulfills its mission through donations and support from sponsors. Get involved by volunteering for its yearly Boutique Day event and other special events. 

 

Melissa Haughton is a recent graduate who currently works in marketing. She is passionate about writing, cats and helping out in the community. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Tags:  clothing donations  clothing drives  Ontario  prom clothing for low-income  Toronto  used clothing  volunteer for a clothing drive  Volunteer in fashion 

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Ask Kelly - How Do I Apply To Volunteer If I Don't Have Work Experience?

Posted By Kelly Devries, Outreach Coordinator, January 18, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Kelly” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. As Volunteer Toronto’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Kelly Harbour is our in-house expert on all things volunteering. Got a burning question? She’s here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Kelly



 

Hello Kelly,

My name is Jian and I am in grade 10. I want to volunteer and get my 40 hours, but I am unsure where to start especially because I’ve never worked or volunteered anywhere before. What is the best way for me to find a volunteer position? I’ve noticed some places ask for resumes, but since I don’t have any experience, what can I send in?

- Jian


 


Hello Jian,

Thank you so much for your letter and your question! I am really glad to hear you want to volunteer and get your 40 hours! Volunteering can be fun, a great way to meet new people and it could give you some experience to put on your resume. 

The best way for you to start looking for positions is to go to our website at www.volunteertoronto.ca/opportunities and search by Category “1. Suitable for Youth (14-17)”. That will bring up any positions that are looking for youth volunteers. Please know that new positions are being posted every day!

 

 

 

When you find a position title that appeals to you, click on it and you’ll find more information about the position. At the bottom you’ll find a section that says “How to Apply/Contact” follow those instructions to contact the organization directly.

You are right that sometimes in the “How to Apply/Contact” section, an organization will ask for a resume. Since you don’t have any experience, I would encourage you to draft a document that highlights your major achievements, your top skills and the things you are interested in. Or if you’d like to try writing a resume, this article gives some fantastic tips for high school students with no experience. Remember, just because you don’t have formal experience, you still have a lot to offer! Make sure to make it look professional and check for spelling and grammar.

In your application, I encourage you to also include a paragraph or cover letter that explains your interest in the position and the skills you have to offer. Why do you want to volunteer for that organization in particular? What are you great at?

If you need any additional help, Jian, feel free to contact one of our referral counsellors who will be more than happy to help.

I wish you the best of luck in your search! I’m excited about where volunteering make take you.

- Kelly 

 
 Kelly Devries, Community Engagement Coordinator Kelly DeVries is Volunteer Toronto's Community Engagement Coordinator. She coordinates a team
of hardworking volunteers who represent Volunteer Toronto at community events. She is the voice
of our Volunteer Times newsletter and assists the many events and programs we organize
to inspire people in Toronto to volunteer.
 

Tags:  40 volunteer hours  applying to volunteer  how do I get a volunteer position  how to volunteer  how to write a volunteer resume  Volunteer questions 

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5 People Who Changed Toronto For The Better In 2015

Posted By Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, January 11, 2016
Group photo of award winners
Winners of the 2015 Legacy Awards

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

At Volunteer Toronto, every day we hear tidbits about the incredible work being done by volunteers to make Toronto a city we’re proud to live in. Whether they are advocating for the rights of those less privileged, making it easier for people in low-income neighbourhoods to access food, or providing a home for the many abandoned cats in the city, Toronto wouldn’t be the same without the contribution of its volunteers.

And every now and again, we come across people who have gone above and beyond in their contribution and wowed us with their commitment to the community. Our annual Legacy Awards began in 2011 and shine a light on 25 special volunteers who have given an exceptional contribution to their community. Last year’s winners amazed us. Here are just five of their stories...


Photo of Khadija Aziz with Award Khadija Aziz, the youngest 2015 award winner, is an 18-year old youth leader and arts advocate in her community of Thorncliffe Park. Her belief that all youth should be encouraged to explore arts and take on leadership roles has resulted in her creating the first ever youth-led art show in East York called Thorncliffe Artscape. At school, her passion and advocacy for the arts influenced an increase in student participation and engagement  and recently, Khadija facilitated the creation of two live murals in downtown Toronto where twenty-four students put their artistic skills to use by painting two 5ft by 5ft canvasses that would be displayed at a youth shelter in Etobicoke. Go to www.khadijaaziz.ca to view her work. 
   
Photo of Yves Boucher with award  Yves Boucher was working as a fire fighter, when in 2008 he was diagnosed with a stage 3-4 brain tumour and told he only had 5 more years to live. Despite the side effects of the surgery and radiation/chemotherapy, he was still driven to help others and began volunteering his time at Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto, encouraging others to heal. Yves and his dog Betty volunteer at Bridgepoint Hospital visiting patients and providing inspiration for their rehabilitative therapy. When asked about the surgery scar on his head, he replies “Don’t worry, it’s just cancer!” He has helped raise over $25,000 for Princess Margaret Hospital where he continues to receive treatment.
   
Photo of Reesee with award Reesee survived an abusive relationship and several years later founded Reclaim Your Voice, an event series that creates a platform for survivors and those going through abuse to experience the power of sharing their stories. For many survivors of abuse, it stands as a place of solace and understanding for anyone looking to take an important step in the healing process by speaking out. The events, funded out of her own pocket, are open to men, women, survivors and supporters alike and restore survivors' faith in the opposite sex by emphasizing the compassion that exists within us all.  
   

Photo of Simon Chamberlain with Award

 

10 years ago, in an effort to revive the Mount Dennis community association, Simon Chamberlain became a strong voice actively leading community clean-ups and projects to bring people together. Over the past three winters, Simon has been the driving force behind the creation and supervision of one of the best resident-driven projects in Mount Dennis - an Outdoor Community Skating rink in Pearen Park. He spends 30-50 hours a week volunteering at the outdoor rink organizing one of Toronto's few "Learn to Skate Programs." and has been instrumental in helping hundreds of new skaters enjoy an outdoor sport they would not normally be exposed to.  

   
 Photo of Tamara Doerksen with Award

 

In 1971, Tamara Doerksen lost her brother to a congenital heart defect. In 2010, she launched Lonny’s Smile Foundation, a children's initiative to honour the memory of her brother, and help children with medical challenges to experience the typical elements of childhood such as play, friendship, laughter and adventure. Under Tamara’s leadership as CEO and Founder, Lonny’s Smile has raised over $100,000 to send more than 100 kids to Camp Oki, Canada’s first Summer Camp for children with congenital heart disease. 

   
 

Do you know someone deserving of recognition? We are accepting nominations for the 2016 Legacy Awards until 5pm on Thursday February 4th. If you know someone who deserves an award, nominate them today!

Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

Tags:  Abuse Stories  Arts Advocates  Cancer  City of Toronto Volunteers  Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto  Legacy Awards  Lonny's Smile  Reclaim Your Voice  Thanking Volunteers  Toronto volunteers  Volunteer Appreciation Awards  volunteer celebration  volunteer recognition  Volunteers 

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The Easiest Resolution To Keep In The New Year

Posted By Samantha Glave, Volunteer Guest Blogger, December 30, 2015
 

 Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

 

2016 is almost here! Perhaps, you're planning parties and family dinners or packing your suitcase for a relaxing vacation to end the year. Regardless of what you’re up to now, many people see the approaching New Year as an opportunity for change and self-improvement. Maybe you belong to the 50% of the population who make New Year’s resolutions and (with 2016 fast approaching) you’ve decided to give back to your community and volunteer!!

According to Psychology Today, researchers have found that after two weeks, most people return to their old ways. Although this reality is bleak and discouraging, you aren’t fated to be a part of this group! Below are tips to help you overcome some of the common barriers that people face when doing volunteer work: lack of time and lack of money.     

 

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Many Canadians cite a lack of time as a huge deterrent to volunteering. To work around this, try looking for opportunities that are close to home, work or school or use your lunch hour to complete volunteer work. This way, you won’t have to find “extra time” to perform volunteer duties, and you won’t have to travel far to the charitable organization of your choice.

The Volunteer Toronto website has a helpful search feature, which allows you to tailor your search of available volunteer opportunities. To find roles close to you, search using the location field.


GET TO KNOW YOUR COWORKERS 

How about organizing an employee volunteer group at your workplace? Not only would this help you add organization, coordination and leadership skills to your resume, but involving others in your volunteer work will be a great way to get to know each other while keeping you accountable to your goal and making you more likely to keep your New Year’s Resolution.

To find roles you can do in groups with your coworkers, use the category field and select “4. Suitable for Groups”.

 

VOLUNTEER IN YOUR PJ'S!

With virtual volunteering, you can completely eliminate travel time. This option allows you to contribute to an organization from the comfort of your own home (possibly in your pyjamas and bunny slippers!). Don’t have a computer or a laptop? You can reserve a computer at your local public library… for free! Your travel costs will be reduced if your local library is much closer to you than the volunteer organization. Not tech savvy? Not to worry, organizations not only need people to contribute technical tasks (e.g. online research or website design) but allow people to perform non-technical tasks like virtual visiting and tutoring.

Try doing a keyword search of “virtual” to find roles where you can volunteer from home.

 

SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY

Between working full time, commuting long hours to the office and doing household chores, most of us want to spend the precious free time we do have with our families. Even if we are willing to sacrifice some of that free time for a good cause, it’s a hassle to find someone to watch the kids; it can also be an added cost. To overcome both the time and money issues associated with volunteering, why not involve the whole family? Not only will this activity provide bonding time, but it will teach children the concept of altruism, encourage teamwork and allow older children to add the skills gained from the experience to their blossoming resumes.  

To find roles suitable for families, use the category field and select “2. Suitable for Families (Parents and Kids)”.

 

Need more help? Volunteer Toronto has referral counsellors who can help you find the opportunity that works for you, helping you to keep that New Year’s Resolution! 

 

 

 

Samantha Glave is a writer and editor whose work is regularly published on the Ontario Public Service’s intranet.
When she’s not writing, you can find her watching science-fiction, doing kettle bell workouts or reading the
latest research on raising the ‘strong-willed’ child. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their six-year old son. 
You can find her on LinkedIn

 

Tags:  Give Back  How to volunteer in Toronto  Keeping Your New Years Resolution  Make a Difference  New Years 2016  New Years Resolutions  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteering in the New Year  Volunteerism 

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Spending Time With Seniors Isn’t Old News

Posted By Melissa Haughton, Volunteer Guest Blogger, December 21, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 


Like it or not, Canada’s population is rapidly aging. Statistics Canada found that for the first time, there are more persons aged 65 years and older in Canada than children aged 0 to 14 years. So what does this mean for you? Instead of searching for signs of grey in your hair, take a moment to consider spending time with senior citizens in your community.

 
Give Something Back

Canadians aged 65-74 give the most hours annually to volunteer causes. People in this age group recognize the importance of participating in community efforts and spending time with people in need. So why not return the favour?


Understanding the Elderly

As people age, life can change significantly. Mobility and health issues may become more prominent and lifestyle changes often occur. Since some elderly people aren’t able to engage in the same activities they used to, they can easily feel marginalized.

In fact, depression amongst seniors is common. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada found that 5% to 10% of seniors will experience a depressive disorder that is serious enough to require treatment and the rate of anxiety and depression dramatically increases to 30% to 40% for seniors living in institutions. It also found that chronic pain, living alone without a supportive network, and death of loved ones can be contributing factors to depression among senior citizens, so engaging with elderly citizens in a volunteer capacity can be an important preventative measure.


Getting Social

There are a variety of ways to get involved with senior citizens. Participating in social activities—whether with individuals or groups of elderly—can be extremely rewarding and provide a strong support system for seniors who may feel isolated.

Something as simple as volunteering to be a conversation partner, or lending your talents at a long-term elderly care facility, can make a significant difference in a senior’s life. Many seniors organizations look for Friendly Visitors to meet and chat with residents every week to improve their social activities. And if you’re able to play a musical instrument, there are often roles that involve performing for residents to bring some fun and entertainment to their lives.

Also assisting seniors who may need help with routine activities is another good way to get involved, whether through formal volunteering or simply helping an older relative or neighbour. You could help an elderly person with:

  • Yard work,
  • Minor household maintenance,
  • Gardening and landscaping,
  • Grocery shopping,
  • Computer literacy and written communication, and
  • Accompaniment to appointments and errands.


Let’s not forget that senior citizens are an important part of Canadian society. At best, seniors are honoured and celebrated. At worst, they are considered a burden or are purposefully ignored.  Spending time volunteering with seniors affirms the fact that everyone should be valued and cared for, regardless of age. Take a trip to our volunteer opportunities board and do a keyword search of “seniors” to see how you can positively impact a senior’s life today!

 

Melissa Haughton is a recent graduate who currently works in marketing. She is passionate about writing, cats and helping out in the community. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Tags:  friendly visitor  how to volunteer with seniors  senior care  seniors home  volunteer with the elderly  volunteering with seniors  why volunteer with seniors 

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Has Volunteering Fallen Out of Vogue?

Posted By Melissa Haughton, Volunteer Guest Blogger, November 30, 2015
Updated: November 26, 2015

  

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

 

Recent studies have shown less people are volunteering now than in previous years. 12.7 million Canadians volunteered in 2013 compared to 13.3 million in 2010. So why are Canadians  volunteering less and why should we still continue volunteer despite these reasons?


Can’t Find Time

According to Volunteer Canada, 65% of Canadians cited ‘lack of time’ as a major obstacle to volunteering. While it can feel like finding time to fit in a volunteer activity is impossible, many organizations are flexible and only require a few hours per week—or even per month—from volunteers. There are also an increasing number of volunteer positions that can be done from home, providing a practical alternative for those who may have been discouraged by distance or time constraints.

 

Scared of Commitment

 

Canadians just can’t seem to commit, even with no wedding ring involved. Volunteer Canada found that 61% of people are afraid of long-term volunteer commitment. Prospective volunteers may be discouraged by mandatory commitment periods, without realizing a few important things:

  • There is room for flexibility within most volunteer positions
  • Commitment periods are often enacted due to volunteers who repeatedly fail to show up and/or abandon the position without adequate notice

In all relationships, communication is key. If you’re interested in a volunteer position but aren’t sure about a commitment term, talk to the supervisor of the role! You will be able to discuss options and gain a better understanding of why a term may be asked (e.g. working with children during the school year).

 

 

Prefer to Donate Instead

Donating to a cause is always welcome, but it’s not the only way to get involved. Aside from funding, organizations need manpower to effectively further their causes. Think of it this way:

If you run a non-profit student mentorship program and have funding, but no mentors, then the program probably won’t be very successful. If you have a cold, the doctor likely won’t prescribe you a Toonie.

Instead of just money, find out if you can donate your time, even on a short-term basis. An extra set of hands packing boxes or writing letters can go a long way.

 

 

No One Asked

Canadians don’t shy away from hopping in to help—59% of the population aged 15 and older had volunteered at some point in their lives. But often people wait to be asked. Be proactive and have a look to see what volunteer opportunities are out there. At any one time, Volunteer Toronto’s website has hundreds of volunteer roles waiting to be filled, so have a browse and go for any that interest you! 

 

If you believed volunteering wasn’t for you based on any of the above reasons, don’t count yourself out. 85% of Canadians have participated in some form of informal volunteering, such as housework, personal care or helping out a friend. You’ve likely volunteered in one of the above ways already. Plus, the fact that you’re reading this means you’re on the right track. As the world evolves, volunteer opportunities do too. Many organizations have diverse roles tailored to different skill sets and time commitments. So if you figured it wasn’t for you, there’s no better time to take a second look.

 
 

Melissa Haughton is a recent graduate who currently works in marketing. She is passionate about writing, cats and helping out in the community. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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How You Can Help Syrian Refugees In Toronto

Posted By Ainsley Kendrick, November 24, 2015
Updated: November 24, 2015
 
 Photo from egyptianstreets.com
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Back in February, I attended a small gathering at my church to hear about the possibility of sponsoring a family from Syria. I had been following the uprising in the news and felt drawn to help in whatever way I could. The facilitator explained the steps involved and the commitment we would have to make in supporting the family as a private sponsor. It seemed like a lot of work, but the group was ready and willing to try.

Fast forward to today and our small group has expanded to over 30 members, including partners from a Toronto mosque, two grade schools and a group of lawyers and friends ready to make a difference. We are well on our way to sponsoring 3 families and there is a big possibility that we can sponsor a 4th or 5th family. The outpouring of generosity and love has been astounding. People are coming out of nowhere to give their support. It makes me extremely proud to live in Toronto. 

Now, with the Canadian Government committing to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, there is a lot of work to be done and help needed. 


Here are five things you can do:

VOLUNTEER at organizations that support refugees such as the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, a non-profit which aids survivors in overcoming the lasting effects of torture and war. Based in Scarborough and downtown Toronto, they’re currently looking for volunteers to: befriend survivors of torture as they adjust to life in Toronto, tutor English learners, interpret for those who do not speak English and deliver public presentations to increase the Centre’s visibility. Click here for more info, or contact Juliette at jntege@ccvt.org or 416-750-3045 ext 205.

You can also check out our new volunteer page specifically geared to those looking to volunteer to help refugees, 



GATHER community members and sponsor an individual refugee or family through the government’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program or through the Toronto-based non-profit Lifeline Syria. Also, there are great information sessions offered through ORAT - Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto to help you understand and prepare for sponsorship. 

UPDATE: Welcome Ontario is another great site with a plethora of information on ways you can sponsor, donate or volunteer to help!



SUPPORT Toronto-based organizations like:

Toronto Friends of Refugees

Matthew House

Sojourn House

Romero House

Christie Refugee Welcome Centre

FCJ Refugee Centre

West Neighbourhood House

Adam House

 

TRIEC

Turtle House Art/Play Centre

CultureLink

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office

Albion Neighbourhood Services

University Settlement

Warden Woods Community Centre

Furniture Bank 

W
oodgreen


DONATE to international aid organizations serving on the frontlines.

RESEARCH any local groups or organizations in your area already working to sponsor refugees. Organizations that are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) are allowed to privately sponsor refugees. The Canadian Government has an extensive list of all the SAH holders in Canada. Donate money or offer your time to help them. It truly takes a village to sponsor a family. 

 

The City of Toronto has just launched a website with information on all the services available to sponsors and refugees. This will be updated with new information on a regular basis

The charities, local agencies and SAH's are not exhaustive but are meant to increase your awareness of the possibilities.


 

Ainsley Kendrick is the creative voice behind Volunteer Toronto's external communications. She manages their website and social media channels as well as works with all departments to develop key collateral and messaging. Her mission is to reach the furthest corners of the city to let people know about Volunteer Toronto's programs and services.   

Tags:  Donate to help Syrian refugees  How to help Syrian Refugees in Toronto  Refugee sponsorship  refugees  syrian refugee crisis  Toronto  volunteer  Volunteer with refugees 

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Gaining Work Experience As A Newcomer To Toronto

Posted By Samantha Glave, Volunteer Guest Blogger, November 18, 2015
Updated: November 17, 2015
 
 
 Photo from New To Canada Website
 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

Are you new to Toronto? Interested in finding ways to gain employment, improve your English skills and connect with your community? Volunteering could be your ticket to achieving all of those things!

Finding work in Toronto is a struggle for many people, but for newcomers, the barrier is even greater. It might be because some employers and regulatory bodies require Canadian experience as a legitimate job requirement. Other employers may simply want to ensure that you are aware of Canadian employment standards or may not have practices in place to evaluate your language and communication skills.  

When you volunteer, you have the opportunity to get work experience, make connections for work references, make new friends and learn more about the city where you live. 

So, how do you get started volunteering? Below, Karen Raittinen-DeSario, an Outreach Volunteer with Volunteer Toronto, answers some common questions to help you get started:

 

What is volunteering?  

The act of volunteering is the giving of time and service, usually at non-profits (organizations that don’t exist to make a profit but instead serve a certain cause ) and community organizations.


What is the time commitment?

Volunteer opportunities can vary in length of time and depend on the type of activity and your availability. You can volunteer for an event held on a specified day, this is called a "special event." When you commit to an organization for less than three months, it is called a "short-term" opportunity. Lastly, a "long-term" opportunity is one that will last for more than three months.

 

Can I volunteer if I don’t have Canadian references?  Do I need a work permit? 

"References can come from your country of origin, do not need to be from employers and can come from other sources such as friends, landlords or workers.  A work permit is not needed, and you can volunteer on a visitor or student visa."

 

I want to practice my English, what type of volunteer opportunities should I look for?


Looking for opportunities that are predominantly task based will allow you to meet new people and practice your English-speaking skills.  When using the Volunteer Toronto website, look for special events, working with animals, helping with donations and working with newcomers and farmers markets, as these opportunities are better suited for people who are learning English. 

 

How do I start? 

To get started you must Reflect, Research, Reach Out. Ask yourself, what are my interests? What are my skills? How much time can I offer? What do I want to gain? Go to "Volunteer Opportunities" on the Volunteer Toronto website to explore all the available positions.  Apply by following the instructions in the position description. Contact the person listed if you have any questions. Volunteer Toronto’s How To Start Volunteering page is another great resource to help you start your volunteering journey.

 

Karishma Mohammed moved to Canada in 2014 from Trinidad and Tobago, when asked what surprised her about volunteering, she responded: 

“My initial intention was to be involved in a charity that would 'look good' on my resume but, when I actually became more involved in volunteer work, it took a life of its own. … I got so much in return, I met people from all walks of life, I learned to appreciate that good ideas can come from anywhere and that no one is too old or young to volunteer.”

 

 

Jaime Yumiseva from Ecuador, also moved to Canada in 2014. When reflecting on his volunteer contributions he said:

“My most rewarding experience has been being able to contribute to committed organizations, committed administrators and committed attendees. Volunteering allows me to see how my time influences the life of somebody else, even if it is for a short while … and has made me realize that there is so much more to give. Volunteering is my way to share my happiness and knowledge with others.”

   

If you have a hyper specialized skill it is likely you won't find a volunteer opportunity that allows you to gain that specific experience here in Toronto. Try breaking down the components of that skill and research the volunteer opportunities that might fit the experience you need.

Join Karen this Thursday, November 19, at 6 pm at Volunteer Toronto’sVolunteering As A Newcomer to Canada session.  You will have the opportunity to get additional information, ask her more questions and also hear stories from newcomers who volunteered shortly after arriving in Canada. This event is free of charge and there are only a few spots left!

Can’t attend on Thursday? Book a free, 30-minute, one-on-one appointment with a referral counsellor. They can help you find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you. Visit the Contact Us page for other ways to reach us.

Also, feel free to post any questions in the comment section below.

 

 

 

Samantha Glave is a writer and editor whose work is regularly published on the Ontario Public Service’s intranet.
When she’s not writing, you can find her watching science-fiction, doing kettle bell workouts or reading the
latest research on raising the ‘strong-willed’ child. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their six-year old son. 
You can find her on LinkedIn

 

Tags:  Canadian work experience  finding work experience  finding work in Toronto  How to get work experience  How to start volunteering  job experience  new immigrant  newcomers to Toronto  on work experience  unemployment  Volunteering as a newcomer 

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Can 40 Hours Of Volunteering Be Your Ticket to Stardom?

Posted By Samantha Glave, October 19, 2015
Updated: October 15, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Do you remember the first time you tried your favourite food? You probably needed a little convincing and pushing from your parents. It wasn’t always your favourite food. You would never have known the joy and happiness you get every time you eat it if you had never tried it that first time.  The same concept can be applied to your 40 mandatory 
volunteer hours. You won’t experience those same happy feelings from helping others until you take this opportunity to try it. 

Volunteers come from all walks of life. Some of the biggest names in movies, television, sports and entertainment give their time and energy to good causes.

The rewards of volunteering can be seen in this video with Justin Bieber. In it, he talks about his experience building schools for children in Guatemala. 

     

 

     

 

   

  Even Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Zoey Saldana and veteran actor Kirk Douglas volunteer to serve meals to the homeless.

   

 

 

          

 

LeBron and fellow basketball player Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, work together to help paint a mural in support of ending the crisis of homelessness. 

 

 

 

 

 

Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas and Nelly Furtado discuss the amazing experience they had when they travelled to Kenya when volunteering with Me to We, an organization whose aim is to empower people to become leaders and agents of change.

 

 

 

 

While they could be making millions of dollars at appearances, enjoying the luxury of the most lavish spas and hotels or dining in the most upscale, chic restaurants, these celebrities instead chose to donate their time to help those who are hungry, homeless and disadvantaged. These videos don’t show them giving large sums of money to charities, we see them donating something that we are all capable of giving, superstar status or not — time.

It’s an awesome feeling to do something that helps someone less fortunate than you. Are you an artist like LeBron and Chris? A photographer?  West Park Healthcare Centre is looking for volunteers to assist with art projects.

Do your friends describe you as kind and patient? Do you have an interest in games and activities? Lakeshore Lodge has positions in recreation/sports that may interest you. 

There are hundreds of opportunities on Volunteer Toronto’s website! You can narrow your search by selecting opportunities suitable for youth (14-17).   

Another great way to find your volunteer opportunity is at the Volunteer Toronto Youth Expo where you can meet over 80 non-profit organizations, ask questions and sign up for volunteer opportunities on the spot! Just show up Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the Toronto Reference Library. Click here for more details.

Need more convincing? Here's 5 Reasons Why You Should Go To Volunteer Toronto’s Youth Expo.


 

 
 

Samantha Glave is a writer and editor whose work is regularly published on the Ontario Public Service’s intranet.
When she’s not writing, you can find her watching science-fiction, doing kettle bell workouts or reading the
latest research on raising the ‘strong-willed’ child. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their six-year old son. 
You can find her on LinkedIn

 

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5 Reasons Why You Should Go To Volunteer Toronto’s Youth Expo

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 13, 2015
Updated: December 19, 2016
 
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

HyunGu is a grade 12 student at the University of Toronto Schools. She began volunteering for Heritage Toronto three years ago and has since given her time to organizations like the YMCA, Amnesty International, and Volunteer Toronto. Back in May, she suggested that Volunteer Toronto host a youth volunteer fair and her idea has developed into the Youth Expo, taking place on October 24th at the Toronto Reference Library!

As she makes the transition from high school to university, HyunGu reflects on how volunteerism has enriched her life, and why youth should attend the Youth Expo to get involved!

Here's why HyunGu thinks you (and all your friends) should come to VT's Youth Expo! 

 

 

Get Community Service Hours

Every high school student in Ontario is required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work, and certain specialized curricula may ask for up to 150 hours. Fulfilling extra community service not only ensures graduation, but also qualifies you for lucrative national scholarships. The TD, Loran, Future Aces and Duke of Ed Awards can all support your post-secondary education, and all four organizations will be present at the Expo!


Learn Marketable Skills

It's no secret that the job market is tough on youth today. Volunteering provides training and real-world experience in professional skills, making your resume stand out. Youth Auditing  taught me advocacy and leadership. Amnesty International exposed me to human rights activism and research. In an economy where experience is required for employment, volunteerism provides a low-risk, high reward way of learning in a professional environment.


Find Mentors

Volunteering has helped me develop ideas I am passionate about and brought me in contact with leaders from diverse backgrounds and with specific expertise. From origami to opera, event-planning to scientific research, there is a mentor out there for you, just as eager to teach as you are to learn!


Get References

One of the universal disadvantages of being a youth in an adult world is our lack of work experience. By far the best way to combat this  is to garner references from mentors. Volunteering connects youth to mentors who in return, can vouch for their youth volunteers.. These references can then be used for work, school, or other volunteer opportunities. One of the mentors I met through volunteering is even providing a supplementary reference for university!


Grow

High school is a time for growth, and volunteering has helped me grow in too many ways to count. I've met new people, built new skills, and even got to explore some of my favourite parts of the city while volunteering. By challenging me to take ownership of my future and supporting me as I elbow a place for myself in the adult world, volunteerism has played a hugely important role in who I am today. The Youth Expo is designed to connect Torontonians to volunteer opportunities, is the perfect opportunity for all youth to bring this element into their lives! 

 

If volunteering could inspire HyunGu, why not you? Get started on your volunteer adventure by attending the Youth Expo on October 24th

 

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5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Find a Job

Posted By Kelly Devries, Community Engagement Coordinator, October 7, 2015
Updated: October 5, 2015

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Maya Atallah - Volunteer “When I came to the city last year, as you can expect things were not very easy: different lifestyle, different culture and most of all different weather! I was completely out of my comfort zone and wanted to quickly blend in and feel like I was part of this new community. When I started volunteering at Volunteer Toronto, it totally changed my life. I suddenly regained my passion, developed a sense of commitment and felt awesome when helping others. It has also allowed me to practice my marketing skills for a good cause and opened my eyes to how nice people are in the city and how diversity is what Toronto is all about.” 


- Maya Atallah

 

Maya moved to Canada from Egypt over 12 months ago. She was an ace volunteer at Volunteer Toronto working as a Referral Councellor, Outreach Presenter and Social Media Advisor helping individuals connect to meaningful volunteer opportunities. After a few months on the job hunt, this fall, she was able to land a new job in Corporate Marketing. 

Maya’s story isn’t unique. Many people turn to volunteering when looking for work. As Maya’s story outlines, volunteering can help job-seekers regain passion, connect with others and become familiar with a new city. It can also help you in other ways.

 

Here are 5 ways volunteering can help you find a job:

 

Helps Develop Your Skills

When thinking about the job you would like, reflect on what skills are necessary for the position. Think about hard skills, like IT knowledge or nursing experience, and soft skills, like leadership, managing multiple priorities and research. What skills would you like to develop? Search for volunteer opportunities that suite the hard or soft skills you’d like to improve.

 

Allows You To Network

Volunteering allows you the opportunity to meet many new people. Reflect on who you would like to make connections with and look for volunteer opportunities that will allow you to make some of those connections.

 

Gives You Interview Practice

The application process for volunteer positions often mirrors looking for work. Usually, you will be asked for a cover letter and resume and need to participate in interviews, whether by phone or in-person.  This is an awesome opportunity to practice adapting cover letters and resumes for specific roles and to practice answering questions in an interview.

 

Provides You With Constructive Feedback

In general, volunteer coordinators want to see their volunteers thrive in their role and in life more generally. When volunteering, feel free to ask for feedback from your supervisor about your performance in the role. This will help you identify your strengths and work on your areas of improvement. If you don’t get the volunteer position you were hoping for, ask how you could have improved in the application process.

 

Helps You Earn Great References

Many volunteer coordinators will provide references for your service. If this is important to you, make sure to ask the Volunteer Manager if they give references before you start in the position. Of course getting a great reference will depend on you doing your volunteer service well: arrive on time, do the tasks to the best of your ability and ask questions if you don’t understand something.        

 

And remember, volunteering won’t only benefit you as a job-seeker, but it can be an incredibly fun and engaging way to get involved in your community and better our city!

For more stories like Maya’s check out Volunteers of Toronto.

 

 
 Kelly Devries, Community Engagement Coordinator Kelly Devries is Volunteer Toronto's Community Engagement Coordinator. She coordinates a team
of hardworking volunteers who represent Volunteer Toronto at community events. She is the voice
of our Volunteer Times newsletter and assists the many events and programs we organize
to inspire people in Toronto to volunteer.
 

Tags:  Career  Finding a Job  How to get a job  Job Hunt  volunteer engagement  Volunteering  Work  Work Experience 

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