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Youth that Care about their City: Mandy

Posted By Adam Dias, March 8, 2018
 Creators' Joy
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


Hi! My name is Mandy and I’m in grade 12. But my interest in volunteering started way before highshool. I was always so excited to volunteer as a reading buddy at my local library because they were who I looked up to as a kid.

I began volunteering at the library the summer before grade nine. I loved that I was able to help shy readers overcome barriers and become more confident. When reading an animal story, I had students pretend they were their favourite animal in the book and read those lines, eventually acting them out in a play at the end of the program. Ever since, I’ve been looking for volunteer positions that contribute to the amazing programs I had the privilege of experiencing so that others can too. I believe getting involved in the community through volunteering is such a fantastic experience and it is so important for youth to realize the impact they’re making—especially on other youth.


Changing the landscape, changing yourself

As a Youth Auditor with Volunteer Toronto, I work with a team to interview non-profit volunteer managers who want to learn how to better engage youth. We work hard to break down stigmas by focusing our efforts on minority groups and advocating for youth’s strengths. We’re building a community together—identifying resources, like social media, and teaching leaders how to use them. Within the past six months, the Youth Auditor feedback has empowered youth across the city to take on more versatile volunteer roles that weren’t always available to them before.

Through volunteering you are able to find out more about yourself. As a student, you will want to explore your passions, potential future career field, and whether you enjoy being a leader or an excellent team player. Volunteering will allow you to work with like minded people who are enthusiastic about different interests, and can be a supportive community for your aspirations.

When I was looking to get more involved, I found that many organizations in my community tackled the survival necessities for the less fortunate such as food and shelter, but few addressed their happiness. I decided to co-found a club called “Creators’ Joy” and organized an event where we handmade and donated cards to a homeless shelter. I expanded it to a non-profit organization to reach out to a greater audience, and to increase our impact and inspire youth leadership, I recruited a youth executive team. Within our first year, we’ve donated thousands of cards, engaged hundreds of youth volunteers through our bimonthly cardmaking events, and partnering with 11 non-profits, including Second Harvest, Pride Toronto, and SickKids, to fill an important need I saw in the community.


Giving back and getting more

As a volunteer in the waiting room at Rexdale Community Health Center, I’ve been able to interact with many patients and understand how the health center’s membership is an asset to their current life. I worked on the event promotion on Instagram and subsequently volunteered at the events, allowing me to fully understand the organization and its patient’s values.

As a student, I strongly believe youth should not underestimate the impact they make as volunteers. Many non-profits count on youth to be role models for after school sports activities or other programs to vamp up the excitement for the participants. Recipients often look up to the volunteers as a role model—just like I looked up to the reading buddies at my local library.


Find where you fit

My advice on getting started? Ask yourself: where would I be happy? I got to relive and share great memories again as a volunteer reading buddy. But what if you enjoy visual arts? Try looking up local arts and craft programs that recruit volunteers in your community, or even apply to one of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s summer programs. Because if you enjoy it, you’ll be a better volunteer too! Visit non-profit’s websites and Facebook pages to learn more, especially about how they engage youth.

We’d also love to have you attend our card making events with “Creators’ Joy”—you can stay updated via our Facebook page. And of course, Volunteer Toronto is always pumping out amazing volunteering opportunities. Search from hundreds on their opportunity database. I hope you—other youth—are able to find your rewarding path in volunteering beyond their forty-hours, just like me!



Mandy Wai is a grade 12 MaCS student at William Lyon Mackenzie C.I. She is a co-founder of Creators' Joy, a student-run non-profit that focuses on meeting the emotional needs of those in shelters. Dedicated to giving back, Mandy has been volunteering in her community for over 4 years and, as a youth auditor with Volunteer Toronto, she is helping Toronto's non-profits better engage youth volunteers.

Tags:  40 High School Community service hours  Give Back  Make a Difference  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteering for youth  What's It Like To Volunteer  Youth Volunteers 

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