Sunday, April 6 kicked off the 11th annual National Volunteer Week 2014 – a time to celebrate the 13.3 million volunteers in Canada. The young professionals behind A Quarter Young are no strangers to volunteering. From volunteering at events to participating in co-curricular activities to working with youth, we wanted to highlight three awesome stories with our readers about our contributors’ volunteer experiences to celebrate this important awareness week with the rest of the country and ultimately encourage young people everywhere to give back to their communities.
For the past three years, I have volunteered at my church’s bible camp. Each year, there is always a different theme reflected in daily activities, like the various skits put on by some of the camp’s pastors. My favourite part about volunteering at this camp, though, is that the majority of the kids are not regular members of our church. I like that our church is focusing on opening its doors to the community.
I am usually in charge of creating and organizing games for the campers. At first, I found this to be a challenge. I don’t always enjoy spending time with children. However, with time, I noticed that relationships between the campers and I developed. I began to look forward to finding new games to introduce and they would be intrigued by the new ideas I would offer.
For me, volunteering was a great way to prepare myself for the responsibilities of adulthood, with the added bonus of helping part of the community, even if it was in a small way. If I had an impact on one child’s life, maybe that child would later positively influence someone else, resulting in a ripple effect on the future, paying it forward.
Volunteering and being involved have always been a huge part of my life. I am one of those people who has to be busy; all the time. All throughout my schooling, I was volunteering for clubs and student government groups. In my senior year of high school, I volunteered to produce and direct our school musical – something that had not been done in over 10-years at the time. During my undergraduate career at the University of Guelph-Humber, I held different positions within our student government. The thrill of seeing how my hard work impacted students within my program and campus definitely made all the “free” time I had invested worthwhile. I have also volunteered my time with retirement homes, food banks and abuse centres.
I currently volunteer with the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum, helping them out at their Antique Car Show. This event is held every August and is open to a variety of audiences.
One of the most important parts of my life is singing with York Highlands Chorus. This chorus is a part of a larger organization called Sweet Adeline’s International. I sing with an amazing group of women who sing barbershop (a four part a cappella harmony) and compete every April in Syracuse, New York. Within this remarkable chorus, I am the choreography captain and recently co-chaired our spring show at the Newmarket Community Centre this past March. Although singing with the chorus is an extra curricular in my life, my roles within the chorus are purely voluntary.
All throughout high school and into university, I volunteered when I could. Of all the times I had the opportunity to donate my time, there has never been a more fulfilling opportunity than when I volunteered with Free The Children during We Day. The first time I helped out, in September 2010, I was blown away and I can truthfully say it changed how I see the world.
Free The Children staff took the time to make me feel like the 12 hours I was committing were invaluable and my presence was crucial to the logistics of the show. The roles themselves didn’t involve much hassle (I was an usher and seat filler) but when I sat down to watch the show, and witnessed thousands of young people coming together and believing that they could make a change in the world, I couldn’t help but feel the same. After listening to several speeches, performances and a goose bump inducing speech from founder Craig Keilburger (something like this one from 2012), I knew that even if I couldn’t change the world, I could start by changing my own. In fact, after that day I decided that ultimately my goal was to create my own not-for-profit, and it remains my goal…no matter how long it takes.
If you have an inspirational volunteer experience that you’d like to share, do so by commenting on this post. For more information about National Volunteer Week and the value of volunteers, click here.