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Celebrating Our 60+ Volunteers on International Volunteer Day

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, December 5, 2016
Updated: December 2, 2016
 International Volunteer Day 2016

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Volunteers are the roots of strong communities. Just like roots are essential for trees to bloom, volunteers are essential for communities to boom. The United Nation’s International Volunteer Day, started in 1985, is a global celebration of volunteers.

Locally, nationally and internationally, volunteers are leaders in social change everyday. At Volunteer Toronto our work varies, from being a face in the community engaging Torontonians to volunteer, to organizing and facilitating conferences and training session for various organizations. Yes, we do a lot! But we must give our 60+ volunteers a round of applause. Without them working relentlessly we couldn’t be what we are today.

Here's a sampling of some of our amazing volunteers:

 

Tal

Tal joined the Community Engagement team in September, and provides a key role in helping us compile our evaluation stats, conducting research for our programs, and providing administrative support for events. A key project he has been working on is inputting data from recent workshops which we then analyze to determine how we can amend them to better help the communities we serve. He always has an enthusiastic, friendly, warm demeanour and is a welcome addition to our team.



Cathy

Cathy has been an Outreach Volunteer with us at Volunteer Toronto since September 2015. In her role, Cathy uses her fantastic interpersonal skills and presentation experience to inform and inspire people across the city to volunteer. Cathy attends volunteer fairs, job fairs, and special events and gives presentations to various members of the public. With Cathy’s assistance Volunteer Toronto is able to outreach to more than 8,000 people every year.  

 


Seher


Seher holds a variety of volunteer roles at Volunteer Toronto. As our Youth Social Media Coordinator, she manages our Volunteer Toronto Youth social media accounts, updating them regularly with new volunteer opportunities available to youth all over Toronto. In her role as a Youth Auditor she works in a team to go into non-profits and assess how well they work with high school volunteers. They then write a report that gives the organizations feedback on their volunteer program, and provide recommendations for improvement. She, also, has been instrumental in the planning of our Youth Expo. .  

 

A big shout out to all the amazing volunteers around the world. We want to thank you all for your time, dedication and willing spirits. 

 

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  High School Volunteers  International Volunteer Day  Office Volunteer  Outreach Volunteer  Volunteer  Volunteer at Volunteer Toronto  Volunteer Toronto  Youth Volunteers 

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10 Places In Toronto To Buy Gifts That Support The Local Community!

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 1, 2016
Updated: December 19, 2016
  10 Places To Buy Gifts That Support The Local Community!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

It is officially the start of the season of giving.  Why not direct your generosity in a way that benefits our community, by selecting gifts that give back? We’ve made it easy for you by putting together our top ten gift ideas for 2016 - just click the link in each title to find out more!

 

Inspirations Studio

Located on Dundas West, Inspirations Studio is a pottery studio that teaches women living on low-incomes how to create and sell pottery. The program allows women to gain meaningful employment and provides a safe and inclusive space for creativity. They sell mugs, bowls, plates, platters and beautiful handmade items of all shapes and sizes!

 

Inspirations Studio

Inspirations Studio is a pottery studio that teaches women living on low-incomes how to create and sell pottery.

 

DANI

It’s easy to shop online and select thoughtfully created gift baskets, cookie platters and baby gifts for those you love.  DANI Toronto is a local charity that provides vocational training for adults with special needs so that they can participate as valued members of our community by being involved in the organization’s gift shop, catering, café, and restaurant. 

 

 Dani

DANI Toronto is a local charity that provides vocational training for adults with special needs

 

Sappho

For that special person, choose from an exquisite collection of jewelry that is considered wearable art! Sappho empowers women from marginalized populations across Toronto by employing them to make the jewelry and an income that they can use to support their families. They also sell beautiful “empathy effect” pins with 15% of the proceeds given to a charitable organization that is catalyzing empathy. 

 Sappho

Sappho empowers women from marginalized populations across Toronto
by employing them to make the jewelry.

 

St. John’s Bakery

St. John’s Bakery in the east end employs people on Ontario Works, people with disabilities, people struggling with addictions, people with emotional and or mental Illness, people new to Canada and single parents.  And they make the best bread in the city!  Their sweets and bread can be purchased at their location at Queen and Broadview.  Their bakery goods will make the perfect hostess gift for the party season!

 St. John's Bakery

St. John's Bakery employs people with disabilities, mental illness,
those struggling with addictions, and newcomers to Canada. 

 

Pursuit OCR 

Have a friend who would love to attend an acroyoga class or enjoy the challenges of an indoor obstacle course?  Purchase a gift card from Pursuit OCR in Little Portugal!  By donating 30% of their profits to local non-profits, Pursuit OCR is helping to build awareness in schools about the LGBTQ community.   

 Pursuit OCR

Pursuit OCR donates 30% of their profits to non-profits supporting the LBGTQ community

 

 

FoodShare

FoodShare is a Toronto based non-profit organization that works with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and food education.  Enjoy visiting their website to choose gift baskets of delicious food and bakery items, packaged in beautiful custom made totes and baskets!

 FoodShare

FoodShare is a non-profit organization that works with communities and schools
t
o deliver healthy food and food education. 

 

 

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Drop by the Native Canadian Centre in The Annex to visit their indigenous owned and operated store.  Select from a wide variety of First Nations, Métis and Inuit handcrafted jewelry, carvings, basketry, beadwork, moccasins, and original art.

 Native Canadian Centre

The gift shop is Toronto’s only indigenous owned and operated store.

 

 

Ezzy Lynn

Ezzy Lynn is a lifestyle brand of trendsetting apparel and accessories started by three graduates from Western University who are based in Toronto and London, Ontario. Each item they sell represents a unique endangered animal which they adopt through WWF-Canada from proceeds of each sale.  What a wonderful way to make someone happy in your life and also make an impact on wildlife conservation!  

 Ezzy Lynn

Each Ezzy Lynn item represents a unique endangered animal which the company adopts
through WWF-Canada from proceeds of each sale.  

 

 

Klink Coffee

Brew up some good by purchasing coffee in support of the John Howard Society. This social enterprise assists individuals in removing barriers to entering the workforce. This non-profit organization works especially with clients coming out of the criminal justice system offering employment readiness and on-the-job training.  

 Klink Coffee

Klink Coffee works with clients coming out of the criminal justice system offering employment readiness and on-the-job training. 


 

 

Brighton Launch

If you know someone who loves one-of-a-kind items, check out Brighton Launch! Based in Toronto, their program offers students with learning challenges the business skills and experience that will allow them to find full time jobs. Their online store carries stocking stuffers and unique handmade items such as bath bombs and tub teas.

 Brighton Launch

Brighton Launch offers students with learning challenges the business skills and
experience that will allow them to find full time jobs.

 

Lori Vaudry

Lori is recently retired after a successful career in financial services. She is enjoying every moment of the new phase in her life by playing tennis, sitting on a hospital Board of Directors, learning to play piano, and walking her dogs. Lori volunteers one day a week with Volunteer Toronto as a Referral Counsellor, helping individuals find volunteer opportunities that suit their passions and skills.


Tags:  Best Christmas Gifts of 2016  Christmas gift  Ethical holiday gifts  Gifts to support the local community  Kindest Christmas Gives This year  What to buy for Christmas 

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Ask Kelly - Do You Have Volunteer Opportunities in Mississauga?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 24, 2016
Updated: December 19, 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

Hey Kelly,

I’m interested in volunteering in Mississauga. Can you please send me some opportunities? Also, my friend lives in Oakville; can you send her options too?  

Dennis

 


 

Hello, Dennis

Thanks for your email and your interest in volunteering. We at Volunteer Toronto serve the City of Toronto, which includes downtown, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke. You can think about it like this: we serve anywhere the T.T.C. travels. Although on our website you may find a handful of opportunities outside of the City of Toronto, most of the opportunities we offer are within Toronto.  

Mississauga is a different city than the City of Toronto. Luckily, there is an organization called Volunteer MBC that services Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. I would suggest you contact them to find volunteer opportunities in your community.

There are 26 volunteer centres like Volunteer Toronto and Volunteer MBC across the province that exist to help people like you find meaningful volunteer opportunities in their community. For people across Ontario who are looking to volunteer, a great place to find the nearest volunteer centre to you is OVCN.ca.

 

Thanks so much for contacting us and I wish you great luck as you seek out a volunteer opportunity.

 

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:  Ask Kelly  Ontario Voluntary Centre Network  OVCN  Volunteer in Mississauga  Volunteer MBC  Where to volunteer outside the GTA 

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Meet Our Team: David Allen

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, November 14, 2016
Updated: November 11, 2016

 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Vancouver, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city.

So far, we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, our entire Grassroots Growth team, Director of Engaging Organizations, Melina Condren, Kelly DeVries, Community Engagement Coordinator and Sammy Feilchenfeld, our Training Coordinator. 

Next up... our Executive Director!

 
 David Allen

WHO: David Allen

ROLE: Executive Director

# OF YEARS AT VT: About 3

PLACE OF BIRTH: Toronto, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal

FAVOURITE QUOTE: 

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak: courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto? 

I oversee the day-to-day operations of Volunteer Toronto including program delivery, financial control, human resources, funder relations and compliance with legislation. I also work with the Board of Directors in setting policy and strategic direction for the organization

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

Working with young, energetic staff. They bring to the workplace extraordinary creativity, teamwork and technological know-how. I am constantly learning from them.

 

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

I would regularly visit shut-ins on behalf of my church. Social interaction is important to people as they age and lose mobility. It keeps them engaged in the community. I love hearing their stories of yesteryear and receiving their sage advice.

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

I like to sing. In my youth I performed lead roles in many musical theatre productions and choirs.

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I am embarrassed to say that I could not do without sugar. I love sweets, especially real maple syrup and Hershey candy cane kisses.


 

 

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

Despite today's paperless high tech world, I prefer to work with hard copies. In my desk drawer you will find well-used reference books such as the Yellow Pages Directory, Oxford Dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus. You'll also find stacks of printed documents waiting to be filed.

 

 

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  avid Allen Executive Director  avid Allen Volunteer Toronto  ho is David Allen?  Volunteer Toronto Staff 

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5 Quotes To Help Inspire You To Make A Difference

Posted By Mia Naylor, Guest Blogger, October 24, 2016
Updated: October 21, 2016
 Volunteer Quotes

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Sometimes we need a little inspiration, comforting encouragement to help us feel connected and provide context for the life we live. The world is complex, filled with a myriad of choices and paths to take. When you decide to give freely of your time, for whatever reason, it can steer you in a new direction or affirm your choices. Just by giving your time, you can be part of something bigger than yourself and your actions can have a ripple effect.

 

We've compiled five sharable volunteer quotes in images! We hope that

they'll inspire you to volunteer and truly make a difference for your community. Feel free to share, save, and print these images and spread the joy!

 

Volunteer quotes - volunteering has no destination. The roads you can take are endless.

 "Volunteering has no destination. The roads you can take are endless."

Fiona Kovacaji - Volunteer with the Bata Show Museum“I started volunteering as a way of giving back to the community. As a student, it can feel like you’re constantly taking; from your parents, OSAP… etc and not contributing too much back to society. Volunteering is my way of making a contribution plus I’ve discovered new passions that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. When I began volunteering at Bata Shoe Museum I fell in love with museum work and it has inspired me to pursue a career in Museum Education.”

Fiona Kovacaji 
Volunteer Docent with the Bata Show Museum

 

 Volunteer quote - The greatest gift you can give is time.

"The greatest gift you can give is time."

 

Erica Whyte - Volunteer with Jesse's Centre“I love kids, and I am very goofy, so every day that I am volunteering I try to make it as fun and as exciting as possible. We dress up in crazy clothes and we sing songs and have dance parties. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing those kids smile and laugh, so I do whatever I can to make that happen.”

 

 

 Erica Whyte
Parent Child Centre Volunteer with Jesse’s Centre

 

 Volunteer Quote - Be part of something bigger than yourself

"Be part of something bigger than yourself."

 

Rod Rodney“This particular volunteer experience was unplanned but a result of an inquiry at my sailing Club about involving kids in boatworks. The Club, which supports Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders, shared with me the charity’s contact information and over time I became more involved. Why not volunteer? Seemed like the right thing to do, meet good people, show the kids what possibilities exist and use my knowledge and experience to create social change.”

 

 Captain Ron
Volunteer Sailing Instructor with Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders

 

 

 Volunteer Quote - Small acts when multiplied can transform the world

"Small acts when multiplied can transform the world."

 

Veronica Seeto - Volunteer with TRIEC“I am proud to say my work with International IT professionals has helped them to re-establish their careers in Canada opening so many opportunities to them and their families. Many of my mentees have gone on to contribute back to the community.”

 

 

 

Veronica Seeto
Volunteer Mentor with TRIEC

 

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

 

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The How-To for a First-Time Volunteer: Ace it, Enjoy it.

Posted By Helen Lin, Youth Auditor, October 23, 2016
Updated: October 22, 2016
Teens heart shape 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

 

Once I was a shy, naive, volunteering newbie…

But since then I’ve woken up at 5am for shifts, dedicated hundreds of hours of service, experienced volunteering at a handful of nonprofit organizations...and made every mistake in the book.

Now that you’ve been to the Youth Expo and gotten a good sense of what nonprofits and roles are out there, the time has come to volunteer. Volunteering is so different from going to school, because now you’re actually faced with real world challenges!

Here are 6 tips to help reduce the challenges, so you’re just left with facing the real world. (Sorry, there’s nothing I can do about that; you’ll have to face it sooner or later.)

 

1. Pre-Shift Reflection: Did You Pick the Right Volunteer Position?

There’s nothing worse than not enjoying your first shift, especially since volunteering is supposed to be both fun and meaningful. Before you agree to volunteer with an organization long-term or even short-term, make sure it fits you!

 

 

 

2. Be Prepared and Be On Time.

So you’ve decided to commit to an organization? Great! The best way to show your commitment is by reading up on that volunteer manual (if available) as well as arriving on time or earlier. Don’t be that one volunteer who runs in panting and sweating because they’re 10 minutes late.

 

 

3. Make a Good Impression

First step to first impressions is following #2: Be Prepared, Be On Time. The most impressive first-time volunteers I’ve seen are the ones who walk in already knowing what to expect. Also, do your best to be enthusiastic and follow your supervisor’s directions. If you can do that, you’ll look super dedicated, the volunteer manager will love you, and you might even be asked to help other volunteers who might be experiencing difficulties.

 

4. Don’t Be Shy

Spark conversations. Ask questions. Make friends. Volunteering is so much more enjoyable when you’re with people you’re comfortable with. Being friendly plays a big part in making a good first impression. It may be awkward at first, but trust me, try your best to step out of your comfort zone and initiate a conversation with a fellow volunteer or the manager.
Don’t be shy, Awesome > Comfort Zone.

 

 

5.You Did It, Be Proud!

Has it been three hours already? I hope it was a good experience. Whether you’re doing this for your community service hours, or because your parents made you, pat yourself on the back. You have just taken a big step into the world of social responsibility. It also doesn't hurt to talk about it on social media, the organization you volunteer with would greatly appreciate the exposure especially if you tag them! 

 

 

6. Post-Shift Reflection: Again, Did You Pick the Right Position?

Time for a metacognitive analysis! I mean, self-reflection. How do you feel? If you liked it, hooray! If you didn’t, no problem. Not everything is going to be all rainbows and sunshine, so if this wasn’t the right organization/position for you, don’t worry. Let your volunteer manager know and give as much notice as possible. Hopefully you signed up for more than one organization at the Youth Expo though… if not, Volunteer Toronto has your back.

 

On behalf of staff at Volunteer Toronto, the Youth Advisory Committee, the volunteers who helped put on the event, and the organizations that attended, thanks for coming to the 2016 Youth Expo!

 


Helen Lin is a Grade 10 student at Marc Garneau Collegiate and she is a Youth Auditor at Volunteer Toronto. She started formally volunteering at age 12, and hasn't stopped her community involvement since. Helen has also volunteered for SickKids Foundation, TEDxYouth@Toronto, Ladies Learning Code, and Baycrest Hospital. Her passions include gender rights, sustainable development, global health, social innovation, engineering, and entrepreneurship.


 

Tags:  40 High School Community service hours  40 hours  getting your 40 hours  How to get your 40 hours  volunteer in Toronto  Volunteering  Youth volunteers 

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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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Meet Our Team: Sammy Feilchenfeld

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, October 3, 2016
Updated: September 30, 2016

 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Vancouver, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city.

So far, we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, our entire Grassroots Growth team, our Director of Engaging Organizations, Melina Condren, and Kelly DeVries, our Community Engagement Coordinator.

Next up... our Training Coordinator!

 
 Sammy Feilchenfeld

WHO: Sammy Feilchenfeld

ROLE: Training Coordinator

# OF YEARS AT VT: About 2

PLACE OF BIRTH: Toronto, Ontario

FAVOURITE QUOTE: 

"The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space."

- Thomas Carlyle, by way of Carl Sagan ("Contact")

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto? 

As the Training Coordinator, I provide in-person workshops and online training for the people who recruit and manage volunteers at non-profits. I prepare resources to help organizations engage volunteers, plan our annual VECTor Conference for volunteer managers, and provide advice and guidance around legislation, policies and more!

 

What do you like most about your job?

The opportunity to meet all the great volunteer managers from across the city and get a sense of the challenges (and triumphs) they face every day. I love training, leading and facilitating, so being able to help people overcome their challenges and see new potential always brings me joy. Plus I get to learn a lot about website design and development for my online learning!

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

Throughout most of my university career, I ran a moderately successful theatre company. During my final year, I wrote and directed my first musical and devoted basically every minute of free time to the project. As a volunteer experience, I was able to learn a lot of new things (including that a life in the theatre wasn't for me) but also get a lot of rewards, including 600 happy audience members after the performances, and to share in great satisfaction with the other 50 volunteers I worked with!

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

I've been playing the mandolin for almost 10 years and released an album and 2 EPs. Also in the winter I like to crochet, but I can pretty much only make hats.


 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

Peanut butter (natural creamy only) - this is my daily staple and has probably been my favourite food as long as I can remember. None of that added sugar, salt and oil though...peanuts are all I need!


 

 

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

I have a surprising amount of Lego for when I'm trying to solve a particularly challenging problem. It doesn't come out too much, but when it does my mind goes wild!

 

 

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

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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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Ask Kelly - How Can I Get My 40 Hours?

Posted By Kelly DeVries, Community Engagement Coordinator, September 12, 2016
Updated: September 9, 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



Hi Kelly,

 

I’ve just started grade 9 and heard from my friends that we need to do 40 hours of volunteering to graduate from high school. What counts as volunteering for me to be able to graduate? How do I find volunteer opportunities?

Cynthia

 



Hello Cynthia,

Congratulations on starting high school! Thanks so much for your question. It is true that all Ontario high school students must volunteer at least 40 hours to be able to graduate from high school. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, build up your resume and try new things.

There are many opportunities that can count towards your 40 hours. Here is a helpful infographic to break it down for you!

What counts toward the 40 hour requirement? 

What doesn't count toward the 40 hour requirement?

In terms of how to find opportunities, there are many ways to do so! I encourage you to use our helpful Reflect, Research and Reach Out model to find positions that suite your interests and skills.

You can also come to our Youth Expo on Sunday, October 23 to meet face-to-face with organizations looking for high school volunteers. To learn more and register visit volunteertoronto.ca/youthexpo.

If you are looking for additional guidance please check out the Youth Pages on our website for more information about high school volunteering.

Many thanks Cynthia

Kelly 


 Need to get your 40 hours but don't know where to start?

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.

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Meet Our Team: Kelly DeVries

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, September 5, 2016
Updated: September 2, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.  

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Winnipeg, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city. 

So far we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, our Grassroots Growth team, and our Director of Engaging Organizations, Melina Condren. 

Next up... our Community Engagement Coordinator!


 

WHO: Kelly DeVries

ROLE: Community Engagement Coordinator

# YEARS AT VT: 1

PLACE OF BIRTH: Oakville, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: There is nothing like 90s R&B!

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto?

My main focus is on our outreach to members of the public. Overseeing an amazing team of staff and volunteers, we focus on educating people about volunteering and empowering and motivating them to get started! I seek to ensure that people have the information and resources they need to volunteer. This happens through our Referral Services where people can meet one-on-one to have their questions answered; our Outreach presentations and events where we go into the community and talk to folks about volunteering and our blog and newsletter.

 

Kelly DeVries - Volunteer Toronto 

 Kelly prepping organizations for our Senior's Fair

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

I love working with volunteers! The volunteers I have the pleasure of working with bring such unique skills, enthusiasm and creativity to their roles. I love seeing people develop and explore themselves while volunteering. I've seen first-hand the impact volunteering has on the organization, clientele and on the volunteer themselves. One of my favourite things is to have an idea of tasks that need to be done in the Community Engagement Department, and then explore with a volunteer how their skills and experience can take that task to the next level. Volunteers are amazing!


  Kelly chatting with volunteers at the Dance Marathon

Kelly chatting with volunteers at the Dance Marathon

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

When I first moved to Toronto, I was looking to make connections and friends in the city. I started volunteering for special events with the 519 Church Street Community Centre. These special events included fundraisers, an LGBTQ Volunteer Fair and the Pride Beer Garden. It was an amazing way to meet new people, explore resources the across the city and make connections. Also it was simply fun to be involved in such a vibrant hub and celebrate the diversity of people in Toronto!

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

One of my favourite things about the summertime is playing on my flag football team with Flags of Glory. I've made some of my best friends in the city through this league. It is so much fun! This year I'm the captain of the team which is amazing!


Kelly playing football

Kelly catching a football like a pro!

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I absolutely love dill pickles. I think they are the tastiest thing ever. I cannot imagine having to give them up for the rest of my life! I have trouble going a week without eating several.

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

Double salted licorice is a Dutch treat from my childhood. It has a very unique taste! I've never met someone who didn't grow up eating who hasn't spit it out at first try :) Delicious!

  

Kelly Desk Drawer 

Kelly's desk drawer


Stay tuned in October for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Kelly DeVries  Staff at VT  Volunteer Toronto staff  Who works at Volunteer Toronto 

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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... A Film Festival?

Posted By Kate Baird, Volunteer Guest Blogger, August 22, 2016
Updated: August 18, 2016

TIFF Volunteers 
Photo courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Lights! Camera! Volunteer!

Did you know that our city is home to over 75 film festivals of all sizes?

And that many Toronto festivals depend on the support of dedicated volunteers working in all sorts of roles. Whether it's greeting guests, helping with promotions, or coordinating sponsors, there are countless ways to get involved.

If you're a passionate film fan, offering your time to a festival can be a great opportunity to gain experience, take a peek inside the industry, or make some like-minded new friends.

Tony Cortes - Toronto International Film Festival volunteer
Tony Cortes

Toronto’s biggest film festival is almost upon us, so we chatted with Volunteer Captain Tony Cortes about his experiences volunteering with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

 

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

 

TIFF is an organization that truly relies on a very large team of volunteers. Volunteer Captains provide team leadership to both new and experienced groups of volunteers in various areas of the organization’s operations.

 

 

What is the time commitment involved?


The Festival takes place once a year during September, however, there are other year-round volunteer opportunities at TIFF. During the Festival, volunteers must commit to a minimum of 4 shifts. Each shift can take between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the position.

 

If training is provided, what did it consist of? How long did it last?

TIFF is very good with volunteer training. You are required to attend an information session where you are introduced to the organization and its mission, vision and values. You’re told what you can expect in terms of roles and responsibilities, code of conduct, etc. You get to meet the Volunteer Office team and learn about their specific responsibilities. Then there is specific training for the role you choose. During this session, you are taught all of the possible real-life challenges you could experience in the role and how to prepare for any potential hurdles.

 

What have you learned from your volunteering?

I have learned that TIFF is such a great place to volunteer. It has the best team and the best training provided to volunteers. It's a big, happy family and you get to see a lot of people coming back to volunteer year after year - this is a testament to the fabulous experience volunteers have at TIFF.

 

What’s been surprising or challenging about your volunteering?

You will encounter challenging situations while volunteering and sometimes, no amount of training can prepare you for the real experience. Take a deep breath, listen with empathy, and do your best to help. There is always a TIFF staff member that can assist you.

 

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

Volunteering at TIFF may seem glamorous, but it is also a lot of hard work. It pays off in the end and you finish your shift feeling good that you have helped people and that you are advancing the cause of the organization.


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

Just do it.


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.

 

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Ask Kelly - What is a Referral Counsellor?

Posted By Kelly DeVries, Community Engagement Coordinator, August 15, 2016
Updated: August 12, 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



Dear Kelly,

 

I heard that Volunteer Toronto has Referral Counsellors we can meet with one-on-one to talk about our volunteer interests. What exactly happens in this meeting?

Antoniette

 



Hello Antoniette,

Thank you so much for your email and your interest in our Referral Counsellor services at Volunteer Toronto.

Referral Counsellor Vivian helping a client at Volunteer Toronto
 Referral Counsellor Vivian (right) helping a client

Our Referral Counsellors are wonderful volunteers who come in one day a week to support people who are looking to volunteer. The Referral Counsellors are knowledgeable about volunteering and are here to answer your questions and provide suggestions of where to apply. This can be done in-person, over the phone or through email.

If you contact a Referral Counsellor they will ask questions to further understand what kind of opportunity you are interested in and will follow our Reflect, Research and Reach Out model for finding a suitable position. They will also show you how to navigate the website and provide tips for searching through our volunteer opportunities database. There is no need to bring anything along with you to the appointment, but I do encourage you to think a bit about what you’re interested in.

The Referral Counsellors aim to provide 4-6 suggestions of opportunities to apply to based on our current listings.

After speaking with a Referral Counsellor it is up to you to take the initiative and apply directly to the organization you are interested in. This is listed under the “How to Apply/Contact” section of each listing. Please note that the Referral Counsellor will not match you directly with any opportunities, nor do they do any of the screening for the position.

After providing suggestions of opportunities and helping answer your questions, the Referral Counsellors will strive to ensure that you understand the next steps in the application process.

Our goal at Volunteer Toronto is that people feel empowered to begin volunteering and the Referral Counsellors are a large part of making that happen! Feel free to contact a Referral Counsellor if you have questions or need some assistance while looking for a volunteer position. They can be reached at 416-961-6888 ext 232 or referral@volunteertoronto.ca.

Thanks so much for your excellent question Antoniette!

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:  Help finding a volunteer position  How to start volunteering  Referral Counsellor  volunteer  volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer Toronto services 

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Meet Our Team: Melina Condren

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, August 8, 2016
Updated: August 4, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.  

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Winnipeg, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city. 

So far we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement as well as our Grassroots Growth team. 

Next up... our Director of Community Engagement


 

WHO: Melina Condren

ROLE: Director of Engaging Organizations

# YEARS AT VT: 3

PLACE OF BIRTH: Penetanguishene, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: The soundtrack to the musical "Hamilton"

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto?

I oversee all of Volunteer Toronto’s services for non-profits, including our Training and Subscriptions programs and our Grassroots Growth project. Most of my time is spent supervising staff, and taking care of the planning, budgeting and program evaluation for my programs and projects. I also come up with ideas for new services, lead research projects, write grant proposals, and report to funders.

 

Melina Condren - Volunteer Toronto 

 Melina, leading a Workshop at VECTor 2015

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

I love being behind the scenes working on different programs and projects. I get to be involved in everything Volunteer Toronto does for non-profits; whether it’s coming up with a plan to revamp one of our services or making sure one of our staff members has the support they need to get their job done, I’m in the background making sure we're doing the best work we can.


  Melina in team meeting

Melina in team meeting

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

One volunteer experience that stands out for me was helping out with program evaluation at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre. I was fresh out of graduate school, and I’d been doing a lot of projects that were very theoretical and academic. Volunteering for the DPNCHC was one of the first opportunities I had to apply some of my research skills outside of academia. I felt like it was actually going to make a difference to the organization and have an effect on the people in the program, which was incredibly rewarding for me.

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

Gardening. I’m growing ten types of vegetables and eight types of herbs at the moment, and I’m hoping to expand soon. I’ve even got a system so that I can keep gardening during the winter, keeping everything alive using cold frames, which basically turn my garden into a tiny greenhouse.


Melina Condren Gardening

Melina gardening

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I really love pie. It's a staple of my family's celebrations, either as a dessert or as a savoury main dish, so I would really miss it if I could never eat it again!

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

A lint brush...My desk drawers are pretty boring. It’s impossible for me to show up for work without being covered in cat hair.

  

Melina Desk Drawer 

Melina's desk drawer


Stay tuned in September for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Volunteer Toronto Staff 

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