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4 Ways Volunteering Changed My Life

Posted By Colin J. Rainsbury, Outreach Volunteer, February 21, 2017
Updated: February 13, 2017

 Collin J. Rainsbury planting a tree in Mumbai, India during a field trip with UNICEF

Colin J. Rainsbury planting a tree in Mumbai, India while on a field trip with UNICEF

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I was first introduced to volunteering at the age of six. In London, England during World War II, my parents volunteered by helping to organize community events on weekends in the local school. My sisters and I used to help by serving tea or collecting tickets.

Little did I know how being a volunteer would evolve into such an important and integral part of my life. Over the years, volunteering has helped me develop new skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to experience in my day-to-day work.

Here are four ways volunteering changed my life:

 

I Became A Leader

As a young adult, I volunteered as a youth leader in the Boys' Brigade and was also Cadet Officer. This involved program planning and teaching such things as communications, first aid, military skills, as well as organizing gymnastics, games and events. I also served as a Board Member and Secretary for the international youth organization.

 

Collin meeting The Queen & Duke of Edinburgh

Colin meeting Her Majesty the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh as a Cadet Officer (1967)

 

I Got Organized

I chaired, planned, and attended local, provincial, national and international conventions and training conferences. As Board Secretary, I also perfected the art of note-taking.

 Colin Rainsbury with fellows from the Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship Association

Colin (front right) as Secretary for the Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship Association meeting with members from around the Commonwealth (1953)

 

I Got Out Of My Bubble

Being a volunteer gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from people at all levels of society including those from other countries. This was especially true when I emigrated to Canada in 1957.

 Colin Rainsbury talking to local village chief in Kenya

Colin (left) speaking with a local village chief in Kenya while evaluating a UNICEF/Canada project (1975)

 

I Became A Better Public Speaker

All of the above gave me the necessary experiences to improve on my public speaking skills. I learned how to properly speak with the media, as well as develop my presentation abilities on varied subjects to different audiences.

 Colin Rainsbury making a speech

Colin making a speech as Secretary for the Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship Association

 

In 1963, after a two-year working vacation, during which I visited Australia and hitch-hiked from Cape Town to Cairo, I finally returned to Canada after renewing many of my international association friendships along the way.

In Ottawa, I became the Executive Assistant to the General Manager/Chief Engineer of a Crown corporation responsible for public utilities across northern Canada. While my training as an electrical engineer helped, it was due to the additional skills I learned as a volunteer that made me stand out. After receiving the position, I later learned they had had difficulty filling it for some time.

In the following years, because of my new administrative work and continued volunteer experiences, I began to consider switching to non-profit work.

In 1970, UNICEF was looking for its first Canadian Field Director. From the job-description I had the qualifications they were looking for; administrative and public speaking skills, volunteering, plus international experience. I obtained the position and what followed was 26 years of a very satisfying career change.

The work was both challenging and varied. It took me across Canada and eventually, UNICEF Canada became known around the world for its success in developing a national volunteer network of all ages.

It has been a long journey since I was a boy serving tea in 1940 to representing Canada on the international stage, including various disaster zones, but it is a journey that has been well worth it!

 

Collin J. Rainsbury

Colin J. Rainsbury has a wealth of experience not only as a volunteer for over 70 years, but also as the Executive Director for a number of non-profit organizations, both large and small. A number of months ago he changed his focus and joined Volunteer Toronto as a member of the outreach team and enjoys sharing his experiences from both sides of the “volunteer fence” with potential new and returning volunteers. As a "foodie", in his spare time, he updates his own unique “Wine & Dine the Subway” website and assists his partner in running a small but successful business.


Tags:  City of Toronto Volunteers  Toronto  Toronto volunteers  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering for youth  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  What's It Like To Volunteer  Youth Support 

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Ask Kelly - Can I Use My Financial Experience To Volunteer At A Bank?

Posted By Kelly DeVries, Community Engagement Coordinator, October 11, 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 DeVries 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


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hello Kelly,

I am interested in volunteering for a bank to use my financial experience. I am having trouble finding a bank I can volunteer at. Can you please help me? 

 Sincerely,

Arshna

 


 

Hello, Arshna

Thank you so much for your email. I am glad to hear that you are interested in volunteering. To answer your question, no you cannot volunteer in a bank.  

The reason for this is that banks are for-profit companies. For-profit companies are businesses that seek to make revenue. Some examples of for-profits include banks, tech companies, engineering firms, and retail stores. You cannot volunteer at these companies. 

At Volunteer Toronto we promote volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations.

Non-profits are organizations that exist to serve a cause or a community. They do not exist to make money. There are many non-profits across our city. Their purpose could include reducing worldwide hunger, providing tutoring in the community or promoting caring for the environment. The opportunities are endless! All the volunteer opportunities you can find on our website are with non-profit organizations.

If you would like to volunteer and use your financial experience, a few possibilities include:

  • Volunteering on a committee that needs someone with a financial background (Category: Boards/Committees)
  • Assisting an organization with a fundraising campaign (Category: Fundraising)
  • Mentoring a newcomer or youth who wants to learn more about the finance field (Category: Counselling/Mentoring)

If you need any additional assistance I encourage you tosign-up for our newsletter, attend an information session or contact a Referral Counsellor.

Many thanks Arshna,

Kelly 

 

 

Kelly Devries, Community Engagement CoordinatorKelly 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:  skilled volunteering  Toronto  Volunteer  volunteer in a bank  volunteer in a profession  volunteering 

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What's It Like To Volunteer As... A Friendly Visitor?

Posted By Kate Baird, Volunteer Guest Blogger, September 19, 2016

Kensington Gardens - Friendly Visitor 
Photo courtesy of Kensington Gardens

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

Volunteering is a great way to make new connections, but one popular position provides a unique chance to give and grow at the same time. Friendly visiting is a meaningful way to come together with people outside your normal social circle, and make a difference in their lives.

Friendly visitors provide company to people at risk of isolation. They might share a pot of tea with seniors who live alone, play a game of cards with adults facing health problems, or stop in for a chat with those who have mobility challenges.

Amalia Caballero
Amalia Caballero

Nineteen-year-old Amalia Caballero is a friendly visitor at Kensington Gardens, a not-for-profit long-term care home in the heart of the city. Amalia took the time to share some of her friendly visiting experiences with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How would you describe your current volunteer role to someone who has not heard of your organization and has never volunteered before?

At the Kensington Gardens, our main goal is to provide quality care for all the residents. I visit a few of them every week to have meaningful conversations and participate in stimulating activities together..

 

What is the time commitment involved?


I typically volunteer two hours every week.

 

Can you tell us about the training provided?

Training consists of online modules that are constantly being updated. There is also in-person training that ensures we can safely interact with residents. The online modules can be completed at your own pace, while the in-person training lasts two hours.

 

What skills and characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in your volunteering?

In order for friendly visits to be successful, one must be really patient and truly enjoy interacting with new people every day.

 

What have you learned from your volunteering?

I believe that by volunteering at Kensington Gardens, I have learned to listen to the people that surround me. I now understand that words carry a huge value, and they are wasted when no one stops to listen.

 

What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteering?

The most challenging experience is accepting that not all residents wish to have a friendly visitor. Some residents are happier with a nice bed and a good nap!

 

What common misconceptions do people have about the volunteering that you do?

People believe that working with seniors is boring, but I can assure them that the residents have the funniest stories and anecdotes to share.


What advice do you have for anyone looking to do this type of volunteering? 

I would advise anyone who wants to volunteer as a friendly visitor to find a nursing home that resonates with him or her. The most important thing about visiting residents is to be happy, and this can only happen if you enjoy going to the facility!.


What do you like most about volunteering for this Kensington Gardens? 

I love volunteering at Kensington Gardens, because this is where I have met the most amazing people! The residents that I visit bring a smile to my face every time I see them.

 

Are you interested in becoming a Friendly Visitor? Check out our Volunteer Opportunities page and search under the category "Visiting/Accompanying Positions." 


Attend any of our free information sessions on volunteering in Toronto!

 

Kate Baird is a fantastic communications professional and self-proclaimed supervolunteer. By day, she works in issues management. By night, she saves the world and edits newsletters for Volunteer Toronto.

 

Tags:  Friendly visiting  health care volunteer positions  senior care volunteer positions  toronto  types of volunteer positions  volunteer  volunteering for youth 

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7 Ways You Can Volunteer To Help The Homeless

Posted By Mia Naylor, Guest Blogger, August 29, 2016
Updated: August 26, 2016

Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

When you imagine volunteering to help the homeless, you might think of helping prepare food in a soup kitchen or sorting clothing donations at a shelter. While it is true that these tasks are the more traditional volunteer opportunities, there are a variety of other ways you can volunteer to help the homeless and contribute meaningfully to create a safe and positive space for all of the members of your community.

 

 

 

 

Mentoring  

1. Volunteer as a mentor

Many organizations seek volunteers to act as mentors for youth in their facilities. Mentors are positive adult role models who guide youth on school, career exploration, personal development, and goal setting. This volunteer role will most likely have a more rigorous application and screening process and will require dedication of time and commitment. Being a mentor to a youth not only contributes positively to your community, but is often a mutually beneficial experience. As a mentor, you would create a meaningful relationship, gain self-esteem, improve supervisory skills, and have the opportunity to connect with other volunteers.

 

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Yonge Street Mission: 416-929-9614

The Redwood: 416-533-9372, extension 233

 

Administrative Assisant 

2. Volunteer as an administrative assistant

Just as much as organizations working to reduce homelessness need volunteer support on the floor, they also need volunteers to help keep the office running smoothly. Administrative duties could include providing front desk support (greeting guests, answering phones), sorting mail, or data entry. If you could provide administrative support, many shelters would be highly appreciative of you donating your skills and time.
 

Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Yonge Street Mission: 416-929-9614

The Redwood416-533-9372, extension 233

St. John the Compassionate Mission: 416-466-1357

 


Tutor 

3. Volunteer as a tutor

A variety of organizations who are focused on homelessness look for volunteers to provide tutoring assistance with secondary school or post-secondary schooling for the people who use their facilities. The level of tutoring that is needed will vary from shelter to shelter and could include assisting children in elementary school, youth in high school, or other residents in college or university. If you have a passion for learning and enjoy sharing your knowledge, volunteering as a tutor might be a great fit!


Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:
 

The Redwood416-533-9372, extension 233

Youth Without Shelter: 416-748-0110

 

 

Appointment Escort 

4. Volunteer as an appointment escort

Providing appointment escorts is a service many organizations may offer. This service relies on volunteers to accompany guests to and from a variety of appointments. This could include accompanying someone with a medical appointment, on a grocery trip, or to a dentist appointment. Acting as an escort allows you to assist residents with travel and also provides a friendly visit for residents.


Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

The Good Neighbour's Club: 416-366-5377, extension 242

WoodGreen Community Services: 416-645-6000


 

Special Events 

5. Volunteer at special events

Organizations focused on reducing homelessness may host special events at different times throughout the year and they will most likely need volunteers to help during these events. Some of the volunteer tasks at special events could include planning the event, setting up and tearing down the event, taking photographs during the event, or helping with event registration.


Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:

Wychwood Open Door: wychwoodopendoor@gmail.com

St. John the Compassionate Mission: 416-466-1357

 

 

Gardening volunteer

 

6. Volunteer as a gardener

Homeless shelters and other centres may have grounds or gardens providing a pleasant green space for guests to relax in or a yard for children to play in. Volunteer your time by helping mow the lawn, plant vegetables, or rake leaves.


Interested? Try reaching out to these organizations:
 

St. Felix Centre: 416-203-1624

 

 

Professional services 

7. Volunteer your professional services

A variety of other programs that rely heavily on volunteer support may be offered. If you have a special skill you would like to donate, volunteer opportunities for people who can act as doctors, dental assistants, optometrists, nurses, technical support, dance instructors, music instructors, fitness instructors, hairdressers may be available.

 

 

How To Get Involved

If any of these opportunities sound interesting to you, please contact the organization directly to apply. There are many other organizations working to alleviate homelessness in Toronto that have not been mentioned here, who may welcome your volunteer assistance. If you have any in mind, we encourage you to contact them and offer your services.

Check out this video just released by OCAP. It is a brief look at the housing crisis in Toronto and the people it affects. 

For further volunteer opportunities or more information,email us at referral@volunteertoronto.ca or call 416-961-6888.

 

 

Attend any of our free information sessions on volunteering in Toronto!

Jessica Huynh

Mia is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, where she is studying Political Science and Ethics, Society & Law. She is interested in the reformation of our justice system and loves petting dogs. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:  helping the homeless  Homeless in Toronto  How to volunteer to help the homeless  Toronto  Volunteer with the homeless 

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What's It Like To Volunteer For...Habitat For Humanity

Posted By Melissa Haughton, Volunteer Guest Blogger, May 10, 2016
Updated: May 9, 2016

 

Photo courtesy of Habitat For Humanity GTA

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Having a safe and decent place to live is a basic human right. Yet there are 1.6 million Canadian families in need of safe, clean and affordable shelter but are forced to decide between heat and rent – a choice no family should ever have to make.

 
 Keith Perrin (left) and volunteer

Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area is a non-profit organization that envisions a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Their work focuses on mobilizing volunteers and community partners to help hardworking, low income families break the cycle of poverty through affordable homeownership. Volunteers are the heart and soul of their work and each year 10,000 volunteers contribute over 100,000 hours to support the organization. One of their most well-known volunteer activities involves helping to build a home for a family.

Intrigued by what’s involved? Volunteer Toronto spoke with Keith Perrin, a volunteer with a background in sales and management, who rolled up his sleeves to help the cause and has helped many families along the way.

 

What is your current role at Habitat for Humanity GTA?

I’m the Volunteer Crew Leader

 

How long have you volunteered with this organization?

For more than three years.

 

How would you describe your current volunteer role?

Habitat for Humanity helps break the cycle of poverty for our partner families by providing a path to home ownership that would not otherwise be financially feasible.

We construct new build homes using volunteer labour, except where a licensed tradesperson is needed. Since volunteers perform primary framing, insulation, flooring and numerous other construction tasks, we are able to produce a quality home at a low construction cost.

Volunteers typically have no construction experience and must be taught the skills required to perform the task assigned for their day on the site, and be supervised throughout the day. This is a great learning experience, and opportunity to lend skills to a good cause in a hands-on fashion.

As a Volunteer Crew Leader, I teach construction skills, perform construction tasks and direct volunteers as they work on the home.

 

What is the time commitment involved?

For the past three years, I have averaged 500 hours per year. My frequency varies from as many as 3 to 4 days per week in the spring and fall, to a more staggered schedule in the summer and winter when vacation intervenes. As an organization, Habitat works with "what you can do, when you can do it" rather than a fixed commitment.

Many people only volunteer once, often as part of a corporate or community group. Some volunteers become regulars, and participate a few times per month. Regulars can graduate to the "Crew Program", in which they have expanded responsibility and assist less experienced volunteers. Some Crew Program members go on to become Crew Leaders if they show the desire, ability and commitment to more regular participation.

 

What does training consist of? How long does it last?

Training at Habitat occurs on the job, as it’s the only practical way to learn to build a house. I’ve been a Crew Leader for three years and a day never goes by that I don't still learn something from another volunteer.

Learning and teaching construction skills is a fundamental part of the Habitat model. Habitat people are extremely generous with their knowledge. Knowledge sharing is an integral part of the Habitat spirit.

 

What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteering?

I was initially shocked at how little I knew about actual construction. I always thought of myself as a handy guy, but it turned out I knew zero about building a real house. Mercifully Habitat people are incredibly generous with their knowledge.

I was also surprised to realize how much teaching and leadership is involved, and how weak my skills were. I spent my career in management, but I quickly realized that everyone I managed already knew their jobs!

At Habitat every day brings a new cohort of volunteers who generally have a great spirit, but no knowledge. I can say that my teaching and leadership skills are better today than they were before I retired, but don't tell my old employer that!

 

What have you learned from your volunteering?

Obviously, I’ve learned how to build houses. But the greater, and somewhat surprising thing I’ve learned is how to teach and lead people.

As Crew Leaders we spend some time discussing the construction process, but we spend far more time discussing the best ways to teach volunteers with no experience how to perform a required task effectively.

It’s critical that we teach inexperienced volunteers new tasks early in the morning, so that they can be productive and self-sufficient by the midday coffee break if we are to have a successful day.

 

How have the skills/knowledge you’ve gained through your volunteering transferred into other areas of your life?

There’s no doubt I am a better builder since joining Habitat, but I have also become the "go to" guy amongst everyone I know for an answer to a technical home question!

 

What common misconceptions do people have about the volunteering that you do?

People think Habitat builds houses and gives them away, and this is not the case. Habitat’s motto is  "We give a hand up, not a hand out”.

Partner families (who will be living in the home) begin by passing a rigorous qualification process. They then have to give 500 hours of volunteer time to their home construction in lieu of a down payment. The house is sold to the partner family at its full market value, and Habitat provides a 100% first mortgage at zero interest with a repayment schedule geared to income.

The partner family must earn their way into an equity position in the property by paying down that mortgage. Were they to choose to sell the property after paying down only 10% of the mortgage, they would be entitled to only 10% of the equity in the home, including any appreciation in market value. This is a long term commitment for the partner family. When we say the partner family is in partnership with Habitat, we mean it!

 

What advice do you have to give to anyone looking to do this type of volunteering?

Give it a try! It's physically demanding, and although it may not feel like it at first, it's a big benefit. I am 67 years old and am in the best shape I've been in the last 25 years! It also provides a great mental workout - construction is essentially one long problem-solving exercise, and it has improved my math skills significantly.

More than anything: come with an open mind willing to learn, teach and meet new and interesting people.

 

 

 

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:  Construction volunteers  Habitat for Humanity  poverty reduction  Toronto  volunteer in construction  Volunteer in Toronto 

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Making Your Court-Ordered Community Services Hours Time Well Spent

Posted By Andre MacKay, Guest Blogger, April 25, 2016
Updated: April 14, 2016

Andre volunteering at the Dance Marathon

Andre (left) and Megan voluntering at Volunteer Toronto's Dance Marathon in support of SickKids

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

After receiving a traffic citation, I was required by court order, to complete 80 hours of community service, which at the time, seemed a very daunting task given my hectic, deadline-driven work schedule, long commute to and from home, as well as periods of extended travel. I began by looking to my personal and professional networks for connections that worked in the non-for-profit space that could perhaps refer me to volunteer positions that would allow me to leverage my work experience and skills. I noticed there were many volunteer positions that required candidates commit to a recurring schedule over the course of a few months, but due to my hectic schedule, I needed to find a volunteer position where I could help on either a single event or small number of events. Enter Volunteer Toronto…

There are several great online resources throughout the GTA that aggregate volunteer opportunities and offer a convenient listing of those positions. In general these websites allow you to search, review, and register for a variety of different tasks, events, and programs. After searching casually on a few, I kept coming back to the Volunteer Toronto website because I found it to be thorough and intuitive with a great variety of potential opportunities. The site allows you to search by category and surface specific types of work assignments: such as events that involve group activities, those that support people with disabilities, fundraising positions, consulting, and clerical tasks or some combination of the many options offered. What’s more, users can search by keyword if the particular category they’re seeking isn’t listed and then further sort through assignments by location. Further still, the site offers the ability to search based on duration of availability so one can find a one-day assignment, a short term (less than 3 months), long term (greater than 3 months) or indicate that the duration “doesn’t matter.” The search tools are robust and really help take any guesswork out of the process in addition to aggregating and providing consistent updates of the available positions.

My first volunteer assignment was with Central Eglinton Community Centre.  They offer programs and activities for seniors, children, and the general public. Over the course of a few months I helped with general labour and organizing events as well as supporting the leaders, coordinators, and presenters during programs such as: health care information sessions, sales of baked goods and books, and other programs for members, employees, and volunteers. I also helped to supervise the computer lab during designated hours so that registered members could have computer access and I helped those who needed assistance with internet research, email, and word processing. In addition to supporting the wide variety of events and programs that the centre offered I also volunteered at one-off events including: The United Way CN Tower Climb and both Volunteer Toronto’s Grassroots Growth launch event as well as their Dance Marathon in support of SickKids.

The best advice I can give to those looking to contribute or in need of volunteer hours as part of a requirement is to take advantage of the resources offered on the Volunteer Toronto website. Beyond the volunteer opportunity search page, they also have information on how to get started as a volunteer, frequently asked questions about volunteering, stories from past volunteers about their experience, and even a bi-weekly newsletters volunteer opportunities, free information sessions, and special events.

In order to help ensure that the experience is enjoyable and mutually beneficial one should come with an open mind, flexible attitude, and friendly demeanour as the specific needs may change as the event progresses. Approach the volunteer assignment with the same level of professional, engagement, and willingness to contribute as one would have with respect to a paid position.

After volunteering at a number of different events, the one key takeaway is that there are many organizations throughout the GTA offering important services and making meaningful contributions to the lives of Torontonians that, in order to provide those services to the community, need the help and dedication of volunteers. After gaining an appreciation for the value they offer I will absolutely continue to lend a hand and encourage others to join and make whatever contribution of their time, skills, and experience that they can. 


Andre lives and works in Toronto. 

Tags:  416  Court-ordered community service  give back  mandatory community services  The6ix  Toronto  volunteer  volunteering in Toronto 

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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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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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