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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!

 

 
 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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Finding Your Sense of Fulfillment

Posted By Samantha Glave, September 21, 2015
Updated: September 21, 2015

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Does your job provide you with a sense of fulfillment? Or, do you feel invisible in your workplace? No one epitomizes this feeling better than Milton Waddams, the silent, disgruntled employee from the hilarious 1999 comedy 
Office Space. 

 

Milton had been laid off for years but was so ignored and unnoticed by his colleagues and superiors that no one saw fit to inform him. The only reason he continued to show up at work was because he still got paid, thanks to a glitch in the payroll system! 

Now, Milton is an extreme example, but he does illustrate how negatively the work we do on a daily basis can make us feel if it’s not gratifying.  He demonstrates what can result when your skills or potential are underused, go unnoticed and when your work doesn’t allow you to feed your passions. Not everyone has the luxury of finding that perfect job or career, the one that checks all the boxes and fulfills your passions and goals. Fortunately, there is something you can do to rid yourself of this drudgery. It’s not found in a magic pill, nor will it be found in an eBook at the affordable cost of only $19.99! The solution to finding work you enjoy that gives you a sense of purpose is through volunteering. There are hundreds of organizations seeking individuals to contribute their time and efforts in a variety of ways. When you volunteer, it’s not only the organization and the population it serves who profit; it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Heidi Tsao is a volunteer with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), The Santa Claus Parade and Not Far From The Tree.  She has come to realize that “just as with personal relationships, where you can't be all things to one person, you can't expect all your work fulfillment from one position either.”  Her various volunteer positions allow her to express her creativity, something she’s unable to do in her day job. Her volunteer work allows her to think of new ways to bring organizational goals and ideas to life.

Volunteering has been a part of Jennifer Hingston’s life from an early age. She explains that being part of the National Ballet of Canada’s volunteer committee “provides me with a different outlet for my creativity.” This position also allows her to satisfy her interest for this beautiful art form.

You too can find opportunities that make you happy, giving you the chance to showcase your skills and allowing you to reach your full potential. All that’s required on your part is a bit of reflection and some effort. Here are 3 steps to help you in your search.

Another chance to find your perfect opportunity is happening on September 24, 2015. Attend Craft Your Change, a one-night event that brings together good beer, good people and great causes. Aimed at Toronto professionals, it allows people to create their own opportunity by offering their skills and strengths to non-profits looking for volunteers.

 

 
 

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:  Career  Happiness  Life  Volunteering  Work 

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