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How Volunteering Helped My Depression

Posted By Adam Dias, June 4, 2018
 Volunteering with Depression
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

 

This blog tells the story of Bella Williams’ experience with depression—this may be triggering or cause an adverse reaction for some readers.

 

You might expect me to preach about the goodness of volunteering—about how and why to give back to your community—but that isn’t what this blog is about. More than doing good for society, I want to show you that volunteering will have a positive impact on you personally. It certainly did for me.

I was 33 and had lost my job after a fight with my boss. I was going to the occasional interview, without success, but pretty soon I ran out of money and had to move in into my parents’ house. The guy I was dating chose to leave me and I hardly ever met with my friends. I was usually fun-loving and talkative but I had become detached and resistant to conversation—probably out of apprehension of discussing my life updates. I wasn’t actually bothering people but I became very conscious to avoid other humans as much as possible. There wasn’t much I could look forward to back then. Months passed by like this and on a cold winter night someone finally told me that I might have depression.

It was only then I realized that depression was not a state of mind or something that could be controlled—I saw how powerfully my emotions took over every aspect of my life. It kept getting worse with time and I felt as if I was standing in quicksand—the more I tried to escape, the deeper I sunk. My mother took me to meet one of her friends who I knew had been depressed for a very long time. She had joined a volunteer community and asked if I was willing to spare some time to help. I couldn’t say no to such a good family friend, she had fed me too many cookies while I was growing up. Besides, I was convinced I would function so poorly that she would inevitably have to ask me to leave.

What exactly happened from that day on is too long a story to tell here. But writing here now I know that I’m doing much better, that I have survived the darkest phase of my life. At the very least, I’m able to laugh at my father’s jokes and hold beautiful conversations with strangers too. Here is how and why Volunteering helped me fight my depression: 

 

Making a commitment gave me responsibility and purpose.

Whether you’re volunteering once a month or once a day every small step matters. Committing to a cause that I seriously believed in made me accountable to other people that I knew I couldn’t take for granted—I was expected me to show up on time and perform to the best of my abilities. This accountability started making me feel more responsible and this new-found sense of responsibility was a green light—I began to see the world outside of myself. I became motivated to contribute more of my time, committing more deeply. Working at the grassroots level of the problem made see things more closely and helped me become a great volunteer.

 

A regular routine built my confidence and sense of accomplishment.

My volunteering provided a structure and regular routine to my life that, in turn, gave me a sense of purpose—something that was unusual for me during this phase of my life. Working with other people and seeing how effectively I was performing also started improving my self-confidence, I felt more sure of myself. People around me would appreciate my work, making me feel needed and happy.

Volunteering required regularly interacting with strangers, something that I wasn’t very comfortable with. I overcame my apprehension thanks to my increased confidence and the sense of the greater cause that I was working for and felt even better as a result.

The slightest of positive emotions played big roles during this phase of my life. The feeling I have when I’m working for the good of others is very different from the feeling I had when I was working for money.

 

I began managing myself and my emotions.

I knew that volunteering meant that there would be people around me on a regular basis. I started putting efforts into my presentation, putting my best self forward by starting to dress and speak well. Spending my time volunteering on a regular basis also gave me something meaningful to focus on, keeping my mind away from the negative thoughts I used to have. I felt myself becoming more patient and empathetic as a result.

Of course, I would still have bouts of emotions that brought tears to my eyes. But luckily for me, I had people who were helpful and gave me the space I needed. That meant a lot to me. I started to value human emotions more and worked harder to understand and manage my emotions around people. I don’t know about others but I believe that having a strong support system is what helped me most in fighting depression.

 

I know it’s easier said than done and I’m not saying that you’ll be able to address depression in a flash. I was determined and found a purpose to work for that I believed in—it took small baby steps, but I did come out through the tunnel successfully.

 

Bella Williams: As an academic researcher & private tutor, Bella guides the new age professionals and students with their career. A graduate from Monash University, Bella organizes free coaching workshops for Essay Writer and promotes free sharing of knowledge. She is also a consulting editor at Assignment Expert. You can also find her on LinkedIn.

Tags:  How to start volunteering  Mental Health  Volunteer  Volunteering 

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6 Ways to Volunteer in Downtown West

Posted By Adam Dias, May 15, 2018
 Downtown West Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

They say that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods—many different neighbourhoods! And we’ve found lots of people want to volunteer close to where they live, either for convenience or so they can get to know their community better. In this blog I’ll be featuring non-profits you can give your time with based on neighbourhoods across the city.


Between culture, shopping, and dining Downtown West  is always buzzing with activity. Amidst all the action there are a lot of non-profits doing great work—if you feel inspired to give your time in Downtown West, here are some ways to get started:

 

Scadding Court Community Centre

Focused on providing support to under-served populations, Scadding Court offers a variety of programs designed to lend a hand to anyone falling behind. They have a wide range of volunteer opportunities—from childcare to seniors programs, newcomer assistance to scientific education, and many more. Sometimes they even go fishing!

NoJetsTO

NoJetsTO works to prevent the added noise, pollution, and gridlock that would come to Toronto’s beautiful waterfront if Billy Bishop airport were expanded to allow for jet aircraft. Protect our waterfront by helping with outreach, canvassing, social media, or by joining their steering committee.

Canada Learning Code

Known for their Ladies Learning Code program, CLC seeks to increase access to coding and technical education for everyone, especially under-represented minorities and women. They’re often looking for teachers and mentors—to maintain their impressive 4:1 ratio of students to instructors—as well as general office administration.

University Settlement

University Settlement envisions a healthy, diverse community and works to promote social, cultural, and educational growth. With so many programs volunteers are essential to their work, opportunities include childcare, administrative work, senior assistance, and more.

St. Felix Centre

St. Felix Centre has expanded substantially from its origins as a daycare centre for newcomers. Now they offer a suite of services to the community, providing housing, job preparation, food, clothing, case management, and more! Volunteers are involved in nearly every aspect of the centre’s programs and they’re often looking for generous people to donate their time.

Eva's Phoenix

Offering hope and respite to youth experiencing homelessness, Eva’s Phoenix is an award winning transitional home. More than shelter, they offer educational and employment training, as well as life skills programs designed to give a leg up to everyone that passes through their doors.

 

Interested in volunteering with one of these non-profits in Downtown West? Either check out our volunteer opportunities database and search by the organization name, or visit their website directly to reach out and start a conversation about how you can volunteer.

Not from Downtown West and want suggestions in your neighbourhood? Email info@volunteertoronto.ca with subject line: “Ask Kelly” to let me know what area of the city I should focus on next!

 

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7 Ways to Volunteer in East York

Posted By Adam Dias, May 15, 2018
 East York Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

They say that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods—many different neighbourhoods! And we’ve found lots of people want to volunteer close to where they live, either for convenience or so they can get to know their community better. In this blog I’ll be featuring non-profits you can give your time with based on neighbourhoods across the city.


Known for its waterfront, dining, and vibrant community, East York  has a lot to offer locals. Beyond the amenities, they’re also a lot of amazing non-profits working hard to build a stronger East York—If you’re looking to give your time, here are some great places to start:

 

East York Learning Experience (EYLE)

EYLE provides a free, safe environment for adults with limited literacy skills to learn. They work with clients through every step of their learning, from assessment to independence. EYLE regularly needs volunteers as tutors and fundraisers.

Massey Centre for Women

Massey Centre for Women supports young mothers, tending to both their mental and physical health. They even have their own high school to ensure that young mothers have the option to continue their education. Massey Centre is often looking for help with childcare and administrative duties.

Woodgreen Community Services

Woodgreen is a one-stop shop for anyone in need. They provide help with finances, housing, health, and more to anyone in the East York and Greenwood-Coxwell community. Offering such diverse services, Woodgreen looks to a variety of volunteers for help. Positions include friendly visitors, interpreters, mentors, and Meals on Wheels drivers.

Nisbet Lodge

Nisbet Lodge is devoted to providing high quality senior care that lets their residents live life to the fullest. A welcoming and safe environment for the elderly, Nisbet offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities including meal-time assistance, friendly visiting, and playing music for residents.

Tobias House Resource Centre

Working to create independence for those with physical disabilities, Tobias House provides 24 hour services that range from one-on-one and group support to employment assistance. Volunteers are needed to work with clients, individually or in groups, as well as for clerical and committee work.

Toronto Intergenerational Partnership (TIGP)

TIGP offers programs designed to bring people together—of all age, backgrounds, and abilities. Volunteer as an assistant for a program that catches your eye—working with computers, fitness, home maintenance, and more.

Management Advisory Service (MAS)

Dedicated to improving services across the city, MAS offers pro bono consultancy for Toronto’s non-profits. MAS is always looking for volunteer consultants to contribute their expertise in fundraising, governance, or human resources, as well as for help around their office.

 

Interested in volunteering with one of these non-profits in East York? Either check out our volunteer opportunities database and search by the organization name, or visit their website directly to reach out and start a conversation about how you can volunteer.

Not from East York and want suggestions in your neighbourhood? Email info@volunteertoronto.ca with subject line: “Ask Kelly” to let me know what area of the city I should focus on next!

 

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6 Ways to Volunteer in High Park

Posted By Adam Dias, March 15, 2018
 High Park Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

They say that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods—many different neighbourhoods! And we’ve found lots of people want to volunteer close to where they live, either for convenience or so they can get to know their community better. In this blog I’ll be featuring non-profits you can give your time with based on neighbourhoods across the city.


High Park is known for its scenic views, spring cherry blossoms, and sprawling gardens. Aside from the greenery, High Park also has a number of great, local non-profits—here are six of our favourites:

 

ShelterBox

Believing that no one deserves to be homeless, ShelterBox provides aid in communities around the world that have been devastated by natural disasters. They have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in fundraising, event planning and donations. You can even join one of their response teams to provide aid directly.

The Period Purse

Menstruation can pose a serious problem for women experiencing homelessness. The Period Purse supports women across the city who are living in shelters and on the streets by delivering tampons and pads, discreetly packaged in stylish purses. They need volunteers to help with administration work, packing, accepting donations, and delivering the purses to people and shelters across the city.

Runnymede Healthcare Centre

Taking a new approach to healthcare, Runnymede works together with their patients to create treatment programs catered to their unique needs. They’re often looking for friendly visitors, assistance in programs and therapy, and administrative volunteers

West Toronto Support Services

WTSS believes in neighbours helping neighbours. They provide a variety of supports to seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers in West Toronto. WTSS has a wide variety of volunteer positions including friendly visiting, meal delivery, administrative assistance, and many more!

Not Just Tourists

This organization aims to take travellers and empower them to change lives. Not Just Tourists accepts donated medical supplies and packs them into suitcases, to be delivered by tourists travelling to countries in need. They’re often looking for help receiving donations, sorting and packing supplies, outreach, and—of course—travelling.

St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

St. Joe’s provides a sense of community as well as excellent patient care to everyone that comes through their door. They rely on volunteers who generously donate their time to assist with various programs, friendly visits, patient care, and at their information centres and gift shops.

 

Interested in volunteering with one of these non-profits in High Park? Either check out our volunteer opportunities database and search by the organization name, or visit their website directly to reach out and start a conversation about how you can volunteer.

Not from High Park and want suggestions in your neighbourhood? Email info@volunteertoronto.ca with subject line: “Ask Kelly” to let me know what area of the city I should focus on next!

 

Tags:  Give Back  How to start volunteering  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteering  Ways to volunteer 

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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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Volunteering with Mental Illness: 6 Tips to Get You Started

Posted By Lisa Robinson, January 24, 2018
Updated: January 23, 2018
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

As I write this, it’s blue Monday—the saddest day of the year. Winter weather and shorter days, especially in January, can have a drastic impact on our mood. Living with mental illness myself, I agree—this time of year is far from easy.

So what’s the good news?

It’s known that community can be an antidote for feeling low. And what better way to connect with others than through volunteering? However, finding a volunteer position can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already feeling down. Knowing this, I’ve put together six tips that can take your volunteer search from blah to yah!

 

Start by listing your skills

Hey you! Yes, you. You have skills, lots of them. So go ahead and write them down. What have you learned from your experiences? You’d be surprised at how valuable your skills are. Take a few minutes to reflect on what a great asset you’ll be as a volunteer.

Determine your intentions

Now that you know that you’ll be a valuable volunteer (see your list!) it’s time to think about what YOU want out of volunteering. Are there any skills you want to learn? A specific neighbourhood where you’d like to give back? Or a cause you feel inspired by? Your answers will help narrow down which roles to apply for. Remember, you should get just as much out of your volunteer experience as you put in. You deserve it!

Find the right fit

Volunteer roles are different everywhere you go. Some are really formal and require a big commitment. If you don’t feel ready, that’s okay! You can always explore other opportunities, there are hundreds of non-profits in the city! Find a volunteer role with expectations that motivate you, not overwhelm you. Not sure you’ve found a good fit? Ask to try out the role. You never know until you’ve given it a shot!

Share your intentions

Remember those intentions you created? Share them. Share them with someone in your social network. Share them with (potential) volunteer managers. By sharing these intentions you’ll get support. And hey, you might even find a volunteer manager that adapts a role for you.

Share your needs

Just as important is to share what your needs are. I’ve personally found it helpful to talk to my volunteer supervisor about living with mental illness. If nothing else, I don’t feel like I have to hide when I’m having a bad day. At best, they might work with you to determine how they can support you in your role. Remember, this is your information to share. Only share if you are comfortable.

Follow your gut

It’s important to listen to your gut feelings. Are you achieving what you intended to in a volunteer role? If not, then don’t do it. But don’t give up either. There is an opportunity out there for everyone!

 

As you embark on your volunteer journey, remember you have valuable skills to give. Consider volunteering this winter, and throughout the year, to feel more connected to others. Explore hundreds of opportunities in Toronto using our volunteer opportunities database.

 

Lisa Robinson, Program DeveloperLisa Robinson  is leading the research and development of Volunteer Toronto's first ever placement support program to help Torontonians that are facing barriers to achieving their volunteering goals. Whether they are new to Canada, have accessibility challenges, or find it hard to navigate computers the program is being designed to give everyone the resources they need to find a meaningful and supportive volunteer role.

Tags:  Give Back  Help finding a volunteer position  how do I get a volunteer position  How to start volunteering  Make a Difference  Mental Health  Questions about volunteering  Respect  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer 

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7 Ways to Volunteer in Midtown

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 19, 2018
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

They say that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods—many different neighbourhoods! And we’ve found lots of people want to volunteer close to where they live, either for convenience or so they can get to know their community better. In this blog I’ll be featuring non-profits you can give your time with based on neighbourhoods across the city.


Midtown, loosely defined as the area around Yonge & St. Clair, is a hub of activity, shopping and great local eats. It is also the home base for many local, provincial and national non-profits. Here are seven great organizations you can volunteer with in the Midtown neighbourhood:

 

Central Eglinton Community Centre

As a community hub, Central Eglinton runs health, arts and social programming for infants to seniors. Volunteer positions they may recruit for include tax preparers, fitness instructors, committee members and program volunteers.

VHA Home Healthcare

Focused on healthcare, VHA Home Healthcare provides comprehensive care including personal support, extreme cleaning and palliative care wherever someone needs it. Hoarding Support, In-Home ESL Tutors and Family Support are some of the positions they may recruit volunteers for. 

York Pioneer Historic Society

Working to “preserve the past for the future,” the Historic Society hosts social events, writes an annual journal and operates Scadding Cabin, Toronto’s oldest house. They are often looking for volunteers to assist with publicity, research, writing and committee work.

Skylark Children, Youth and Families

As an organization focused on the well-being of children and families, Skylark offers free individual and family counselling, treatment programs and support services. Volunteer positions that may recruit for include fundraising and administrative support.

Hospice Toronto

Working with people across the city, Hospice Toronto provides in-home hospice palliative care as well services to support grieving families. They are looking for volunteers to generously spend time and give practical support to people who are living with a life-threatening illness. All Hospice Volunteers receive a minimum of 35 hours of training before beginning in the role.

Future Possibilities For Kids

With the goal of empowering children to make concrete changes in their community, Future Possibilities for Kids matches adult volunteer mentors with children to help provide and guidance and support for reaching their goals. Future Possibilities asks volunteer mentors to connect with their mentee over the phone at least once a week and together attend five events throughout the year.

Alzheimer Society of Toronto

The role of this organization is to provide support, information, research and resources for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Volunteer positions include peer support group facilitators, social media ambassadors and assisting at special fundraising events.

 

Interested in volunteering with one of these non-profits in Midtown? Either check out our volunteer opportunities database and search by the organization name, or visit their website directly to reach out and start a conversation about how you can volunteer.

Not from Midtown and want suggestions in your neighbourhood? Email info@volunteertoronto.ca with subject line: “Ask Kelly” to let me know what area of the city I should focus on next!

 

Kelly Devries, Community Engagement CoordinatorKelly Harbour is Volunteer Toronto's Senior 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:  Frequently Asked Questions  Help finding a volunteer position  How to start volunteering  How to volunteer in Toronto  Questions about volunteering  Toronto  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Ways to volunteer 

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Ask Kelly: Why Do I Need to Apply to Volunteer?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 20, 2017
 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 Harbour 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 want to volunteer and give my time in the community. I don’t understand why I need to fill in an application form, attend an interview and possibly do a police check. Isn’t it enough that I want to give my time to help?

Margaret

 


 

Hi Margaret,

Thanks so much for your question. It is a good one. And I’m happy to hear you want to support your community.

Volunteers help non-profits achieve their missions and create change in the community. Majority of non-profits will have an application process to ensure that they find the right volunteer for the role. This benefits the non-profit and the community as they ensure that the person has the right skills, experience and personality for the position. This can also benefit you as a volunteer as you’ll be placed in a role that suites your skills and interests.

By asking for application forms, resumes or cover letters the non-profit will learn more about your skills and experience related to the volunteer position. Interviews especially are a great way for them to learn more about your passion for the cause, your interest in the role and your strengths.

If you want to volunteer to help seniors, children, people with disabilities or others who might be considered vulnerable you will be asked to do a police check. The non-profit does this to make sure that they aren’t taking on a volunteer who has a history of hurting people. The non-profit may also ask for references which are other people who can give feedback on your skills and working style.

Here are a few examples to further explain:

  • Petra would like to be a Social Media Volunteer. To apply for the position she needs to send in a resume and cover letter, showcasing examples of social media posts and marketing she’s done before. She'll also need to attend an interview. The non-profit takes these steps to learn more about Petra’s experience and skills to ensure that Petra would represent the non-profit well online.
  • Mark wants to volunteer as a Presenter. For the role he needs to fill in an application form, come to an interview where he does a mock presentation, answer questions about his presentation and then provide two references. The application process includes these steps so the non-profit can learn about the volunteer’s experience, make sure Mark is a good presenter and see if Mark can answer questions well. They also want to speak to other people who know Mark in order to confirm his skills.
  • Rose would like to volunteer as a Friendly Visitor and provide companionship to seniors in their homes. Rose has to send in an application form that includes why she wants this role, she'll also go to two interviews and file a police reference check. This is because the organization wants to make sure that Rose is a friendly and caring person, who will connect well with a senior, and won’t do anything to steal from, harm or hurt the senior she’s visiting.

Margaret, I hope this information is helpful for you. Don’t let the application process stop you from seeking out a great volunteer opportunity. And remember the process exists to make sure you’re a great fit for the role and the role is a great fit for you!

All the best is seeking out a meaningful volunteer opportunity,

Kelly 

 

 

Kelly Devries, Community Engagement CoordinatorKelly Harbour 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:  applying to volunteer  Ask Kelly  Frequently Asked Questions  how do I get a volunteer position  How long does it take to find a volunteer position  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  Questions about volunteering  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer  What's It Like To Volunteer 

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10 Places You Can Volunteer to Support Mental Health

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes | Written by Kasandra James

 

Mental health and mental illness affect people from all walks of life and in countless ways. While confronting mental health can be overwhelming, there are many ways to support mental health as a volunteer and make an impact in other’s lives. Check out these Toronto organizations and find out how you can give your time, skills and abilities to support their mental health programs:

 

Cota supports adults with mental health and cognitive challenges, helping them to live well within their communities. They provide services including supportive housing, short-term residential beds and day programs.

  • Location: Numerous sites across Toronto
  • How you can volunteer: Cota is often recruiting Adult Day Services Assistants who engage clients in meaningful activities to explore their strengths and develop new skills.

Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre is a multi-service agency in Toronto’s West End, providing health and community support services for infants, children, youth and seniors.

  • Location: Davenport Road and Old Weston Road 
  • How you can volunteer: As a Community Dining Assistant, you’ll help with set-up, clean-up and cooking for Wednesday community dinners. 

Family Service Toronto helps people facing a variety of life challenges, by assisting families and individuals through counselling, community development, advocacy and public education programs.

  • Location: Numerous sites across Toronto
  • How you can volunteer: As an Options Program Tutor and Life Skills Coach, you’ll maintain a supportive, friendly relationship with individuals who face mental health challenges. 

Fred Victor fosters long-lasting positive change in the lives of homeless and low-income people living across Toronto. Their services include: affordable housing, emergency shelter, job training and counselling, and community mental health outreach and services.

  • Location: Downtown East, multiple sites
  • How you can volunteer: Arts/Craft Instructors conduct weekly sessions with community members. 

Massey Centre is an infant and early childhood mental health organization supporting pregnant and parenting adolescents, aged 13-25, and their babies. Their programs include pre-and-post natal residential care, primary health care and maternal infant mental health.

  • Location: Broadview Avenue and Danforth Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Parent Relief Volunteers provide basic child care while young mothers take much-needed breaks or run errands. 

Senior Persons Living Connected (SPLC) provides programs and services that meet the diverse needs of older adults and their caregivers. Services include seniors housing, counselling and social, recreational and fitness programs.

  • Location: Warden Avenue and Finch Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Friendly Visitors spend time with seniors, engaging in conversation and leisure activities. 

SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health (formerly The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre) combines prevention, treatment, research and education to support children, youth and families facing mental health challenges.

  • Location: Keele St. and Sheppard Avenue West or Jarvis St. and Wellesley St. East
  • How you can volunteer: Research Assistants contribute to CCMH’s inter-disciplinary, evidenced-based mental health treatment and support system. 

The Gatehouse provides support, community and resources for individuals impacted by childhood sexual abuse, including an Investigation Support Program, Art Therapy and the Transforming Trauma Conference.

  • Location: Lakeshore Blvd. and Kipling Avenue
  • How you can volunteer: Give your time as a Peer Support Group Facilitator, supporting those impacted by childhood sexual abuse. 

Victim Services Toronto provides immediate crisis response, intervention and prevention services to individuals, families and communities affected by crime and sudden tragedies. Programs include The Trauma Dog Program, High Risk Support Services and Teens Ending Abusive Relationships (TEAR).

  • Location: Yonge St. and College St.
  • How you can volunteer: Crisis Counsellor Volunteers work alongside professional crisis counsellors to support victims in Toronto. 

Yorktown Family Services is dedicated to providing effective, accessible, quality mental health treatment, prevention and outreach services to children, youth, women and families. The agency is divided into a Child and Family Centre and a Shelter for Women and their children, fleeing abusive relationships.

  • Location: Dufferin St. and Eglinton Avenue West 
  • How you can volunteer: Walk-In Clinic Counsellors bring their professional counselling experience to the Family Centre and Shelter, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 

Is your perfect volunteer role not in this list? Most of these organizations have multiple volunteer opportunities, so make sure you visit their websites to find out more. If you still can’t find the right fit, search Volunteer Toronto’s database using the keywords “mental health” or contact our Referral Counsellor at 416-961-6888 x 232 or referral@volunteertoronto.ca.

 


Kasandra JamesAs Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra James is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support. She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circles - discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement. 

Tags:  Abuse Stories  Activism  Activists  Anti-Bulling  Frequently Asked Questions  friendly visitor  Give Back  health care volunteer positions  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  Leadership  Make a Difference  Mental Health  Mentorship  Questions about volunteering  skilled volunteering  Skills  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteer leaders  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  Ways to volunteer 

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Why Group Volunteering isn't as Easy as You Think

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 15, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes | Written by Melina Condren

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more for-profit organizations seek out group volunteering in order to boost employee engagement and expand their social responsibility strategies. Unfortunately, finding a volunteer opportunity for your team AND making a big impact with a non-profit partner isn’t always easy.

On a practical level, many non-profits simply don’t have the space to accommodate a crowd of people. In addition to taking a lot of space, it also takes a lot of time and effort to organize team opportunities. Between planning a task, making sure everyone is properly trained, setting up and cleaning up the space, and all the other responsibilities that are part of holding a successful large-scale event, many volunteer managers don’t have the time to invest in group volunteering. Finally, the type of work that can get done by a group in one day isn’t always the type of work that’s needed most.

To make sure your volunteer experience steers clear of these pitfalls, here are five tips to get you started in planning meaningful, high-impact group volunteering:

 

Plan ahead

We get a lot of last-minute inquiries about group volunteer opportunities, but the truth is that many of them fill up months in advance. Start planning early to make sure that you find an opportunity that aligns with your organization’s mission and values, and to give the non-profit you’re working with plenty of time to prepare.

Split up into teams

Finding two volunteer opportunities for twenty people may be easier than finding one opportunity for forty. If you have a large group and you want everyone to volunteer, consider breaking up into smaller teams and helping out a few different causes. You’ll be able to choose from a much wider range of non-profits to work with, since so many can’t accommodate crowds.

Be prepared to donate money, not just time

Engaging large groups of volunteers takes a lot of time, effort, and resources, so the return on investment just isn’t worth it for many non-profits. Be prepared to make a financial contribution to help cover the costs of the staff time and resources that are being invested to make your volunteer experience successful or donate the food and supplies for the program you’re assisting with. For example, if you volunteer to pack welcome bags with toiletries, towels and pyjamas for a shelter, you might be expected to donate the supplies, not just the time it takes to pack them.

Build lasting partnerships

There are many different ways that employers can support volunteering and give back to their communities—not just by having a big, one-day volunteer event. You could organize a recurring fundraising event and donate the proceeds to a charitable partner, getting your employees involved by contributing or helping to coordinate the fundraiser. Or, you could encourage your employees to volunteer individually in ongoing programs for causes they care about, and support them in doing so with flexible work hours or extra time off. You could even volunteer as a team for the same organization each year, helping to plan, staff and provide the supplies for an annual event. Whatever you choose to do, making an ongoing commitment to a non-profit that goes beyond a single day of service is one of the best ways to make a meaningful impact.

Learn best practices

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably want to learn more about how to incorporate volunteering into your organization. As a next step, I recommend taking a look at the Canadian Code for Employer Supported Volunteering. It’s a great resource put together by Volunteer Canada that provides guidance to help you establish or improve an employer supported volunteer program.

 

Group volunteering isn’t easy, but when it’s done well it can be a great way to make a difference and give back. By following these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a volunteer experience that your team, and the non-profit you support, will be grateful for.

 

  Melina oversees all of Volunteer Toronto's services for organizations, including our training program, volunteer management conference, subscriptions program, and new Grassroots Growth project. Her priority is to ensure our services are effectively helping non-profits build capacity through volunteer involvement and continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of the voluntary sector.

Tags:  Activism  applying to volunteer  Career  City of Toronto Development  Event Volunteering  Give Back  group volunteering  How to give back  How to start volunteering  how to volunteer  How to volunteer in Toronto  How to volunteer to help the homeless  Leadership  Make a Difference  Office Volunteer  poverty reduction  Questions about volunteering  short-term volunteering  skilled volunteering  Skilled Volunteers  Skills  Toronto volunteers  types of volunteer positions  Volunteer  volunteer engagement  volunteer for one day  Volunteer for the holiday  volunteer in group  Volunteer in Toronto  volunteer leaders  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  volunteers  Ways to volunteer  What's It Like To Volunteer  Work 

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How to Include Volunteer Experience on a Resume

Posted By Volunteer Toronto , November 17, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes | Written by Mary Walton, volunteer blogger 


Volunteering has so many benefits, both for the community and for the volunteer. Not can you make a difference by helping others, volunteering also gives you the opportunity to build up new skills that can help you bolster your professional experience. Here are some tips for building this experience into your resume:

 

Include both short and long-term volunteering

The first step is thinking about the length of the volunteering work you've done. Was it a one-day event you volunteered at? Or have you held a longer volunteer role?

Many people have done short-term volunteer placements, usually as part of their school education. Don’t forget, you can include this experience on your resume! If you’ve had a few short-term roles, the best way to include them is listing the year you volunteered and organization’s name in a general 'Volunteering Experience' section of your resume.

If you’ve volunteered for a longer period of time in one role, then this should be treated differently on your resume as you can actually expend on what it is you've done at that placement. Longer-term volunteer roles can sit alongside your work experience. Take the opportunity to go into the details of your role at that organization and mention the skills you've built up there—recruiters often value that you’ve shown you can grow and learn new things.

 

Ask yourself, is your volunteering relevant to the job?

Additionally, you should also consider whether the volunteering you’ve completed is relevant to the job you're applying for. Either way, you can include the experience, but the way you'll do so is different—similar to short-term and longer-term roles.

To start, ask yourself if the skills you learned in each volunteer role reflect the job you’re applying for—regardless of short or long-term. If the roles you’ve held aren’t relevant, you can include them in your separate 'Volunteer Experience' section in your resume and list them out as mentioned above. This will show that you've dedicated time to these organizations, and have contributed back to the community in some way.

However, if the volunteering role is directly related to the job you're applying for—again, no matter whether it is short or long term—then take the opportunity to highlight it. Take care to look at the job posting, and see how you can relate your volunteering back to this role. Flush out a description as if you would explain your past work experience. You want to show the recruiter that you have the skills needed for the job. You may also want to mention your longer-term volunteer experience in your cover letter—it can often set you apart from other candidates.

 

Present your best professional self with a well-written resume

Resume editor Adrienne Jones at AustralianHelp says, "To really wow the recruiter, you've not only got to include the volunteer experience you have, but you've got to write that resume well." This is true. It won’t matter how much volunteer experience you have on your resume or the skills you’ve learned, unless the entire resume is presented professionally. Generally, here are some tips to help you get that resume written perfectly, ready for recruiters:

  • Keep it short: Recruiters don't have the time to be ploughing through long resumes. Ensure they read yours by keeping it short and to the point, only including information that's necessary.
  • Format it well: Use plenty of white space, section your resume out well, and use headings and bullet points. Recruiters scanning your resume will then be able to find what they need.
  • Give yourself time to write: Don't write your whole resume at the last minute. The more time you give yourself, the easier it will be to create a good quality document.
  • Always proofread and edit: Your resume needs to be perfect or it could be disregarded. Make the time to edit and proofread your resume, to catch the mistakes before you send it out.
  • If you need an extra hand, check out BoomEssays and EssayRoo for some more resume building resources.

 

With these tips and tricks, we hope you'll consider including volunteer experience in your resume!

 

Mary Walton is an editor at PaperFellows writing center. She has a blog Simple Grad, there she reviews popular online educational services. Mary helps people improve business writing, and proofreads resumes. Also, she is a tutor at Academized educational portal.

Tags:  how to write a volunteer resume  job experience  Volunteer questions  Volunteering  Volunteerism 

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Why You Need to Get a Head Start on Your Holiday Volunteering

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 13, 2017
Updated: November 13, 2017
 Holiday volunteering opportunities

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

 

Halloween is over. The costumes are stored away and the candy is down to the last packet of Rockets and straggling Tootsie rolls. Stores have started unpacking their holiday decorations, getting ready to bombard the masses with tinsel, spinning dreidels and wreaths of inordinate sizes. Every year I think to myself, “Are they really decorating now?” but I am starting to realize they’ve gotten it right.

If you’re like me, you enjoy getting your shopping done early to avoid the long lines, repetitive music and over-abundance of good cheer. The same should go for your holiday volunteering activities.

Over the years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people who call us on Christmas Eve, hoping to find a place to volunteer. Although well intentioned, many believe it’s possible to just show up at a soup kitchen or shelter to donate their time. Sadly, times have changed and it’s not the reality anymore. There are a limited number of volunteer roles available over the holidays and most get snapped up even before December has even started.

It’s not that organizations don’t want or need the help, it’s that they could use it year-round, not just during the holiday season. Most charities are looking for passionate, reliable, dedicated volunteers who are willing to give their time throughout the year to support their cause. These are often the volunteers who are anointed with the coveted holiday shifts. They know the staff, have been properly trained and are comfortable with the in’s and out’s of the organization.

"Often, the generosity that many of our program participants receive around the holidays is so great that it can be very difficult for them in the new year when the holiday meals, special donations and influx of volunteers taper off. The new year can be a cold and difficult time of year particularly for those who are homeless or precariously housed. Many holiday volunteers don’t realize this, and if they did, some might change the way/time of year they volunteer as a result."

- Kaleigh Wisman, Community Relations Coordinator
at West Neighbourhood House

 

So, I suggest taking all the enthusiasm to give back that you get as December approaches and consider volunteering not just for a day but for a few months or longer. If that won’t do, and you are set on volunteering over the holiday season, then set yourself up for success by contacting organizations NOW. Don’t wait until the last minute! Search using our 'Holiday Volunteering' category to see what opportunities are currently available.  If you’re too late and can’t find anything, think local. Research charities in your area then call or email them directly to see if they will need help. Or, check out other informal ways you can give back this season. 

When you properly plan both you and the organization you support will have a positive experience, making everyone’s holiday season an extraordinary one.  

 

If you are media looking to speak on volunteering during the holidays please get in touch with Cara Eaton, Marketing and Communications Manager at Volunteer Toronto.

Tags:  Christmas volunteering  holiday volunteer opportunities  Holiday Volunteering  holiday volunteers  How do I volunteer at Christmas  How to volunteer during Christmas  Volunteer for the holiday  volunteer holidays 

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The Volunteer Behind Getting Financial Literacy in the Classroom

Posted By Cara Eaton, September 28, 2017
Updated: August 1, 2017

Daniel Rotsztain Fake Development Proposal

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

 

Prakash Amarasooriya is a volunteer with the Toronto Youth Cabinet. He recently succeeded in campaigning to have financial literacy education added to Ontario’s Grade 10 curriculum. Prakash is one of 25 Toronto volunteers recognized with a 2017 Legacy Award for their exceptional contributions. This is his story as a volunteer.

 

Graduate in flux

In 2015, I graduated with a health sciences degree, but around the same time I decided I wanted to go in a different direction. I actually had my eye on business; I saw there was more of a need to drive meaningful change. So, I applied for 170 jobs. Without success. It was discouraging, but I kept going and trusting the process. In January 2016, I stumbled into a job opportunity at TD with no bank experience.

As the same time, I was watching HBO's TV show, The Wire. Season four was all about flaws in the education system, and I saw a lot of parallels to the real world. I had also seen the memes online joking about how young people were taught about things like parabolas but not how to do their own taxes. They felt they had missed out on learning life skills, and I did too. As my work began at TD, I also started to understand the value of financial literacy. What was a savings account? What is a TFSA? I noticed there were a lot of parents who were not financially stable—always in overdraft, or having loans rejected without knowing why. Without help, they would normalize the problem and pass these patterns onto their children. I realized things needed to change from a young age, and that is when I started to link financial literacy to education.

 Around the same time, I knew I wanted to get involved with the City of Toronto. I typed, “young people getting involved in Toronto” into Google and the Toronto Youth Cabinet showed up. The Toronto Youth Cabinet is a semi-autonomous advisory body to the City of Toronto with a space at City Hall.

 

Wheels in motion

I emailed Tom Gleason, Executive Director of the Toronto Youth Cabinet in January 2016 (also a 2017 Legacy Award recipient). I described the gap I saw in financial literacy, and said that I wanted to get involved. They did not yet have anyone for education, so Tom asked if I wanted to be that guy. A working group was then formed to respond to this need.

After joining, I began the research. What was currently being done? What were people saying regarding financial literacy in Canada? I knew that I wanted to see a tangible change, but I also wanted to identify the path of least resistance. So I developed a proposal. I had no templates or experience, just answers to questions I found along the way. Based on my research (and a couple of epiphany moments), I decided that the Grade 10 careers course would be an obtainable measure of success; a foot-in-the-door to start the financial literacy conversation. So my goal was decided—but how do I get this implemented?

 

Campaigning as a volunteer

My first step: connect with the Toronto school boards. I personally emailed each of the trustees, met with them, developed relationships, and asked them to help me advocate for financial literacy. You’d be surprised how willing people are to speak with you, especially if you reach out with respect and genuine curiosity. Eventually, I met with two Provincial curriculum advisors, but it did not go well. They said they had not heard any complaints regarding the current state of financial literacy in schools.

 

Strategy pivot

Despite the government’s discouraging initial reaction, I knew there was a need that the public would support. So I released a petition supporting the proposal on Thanksgiving 2016, gathering 100 names through my personal Facebook. The next day, I sent a press release to key media representatives. Hours later, CityTV called and wanted to interview me. This led to three weeks of media interviews, during which the petition grew and the government changed their stances, agreeing to meet with me again.

On the day of my last scheduled media interview, I was invited to meet with Mitzie Hunter, the new Minister for Education. It was November 1st (fun fact: I forgot it was my birthday that day). My aim was to approach her as cooperatively as possible, positioning a revision to the careers course as a win-win. She had a few questions, but was in full support of the proposal. The one I created—a youth volunteer—with no template. “Did we just win?” Tom and I asked each other as we left the room. We were excited, but wanted to see the results first.

 

A win, but not the end

Two days later, Minister Hunter tweeted, "We’ve heard you Toronto Youth Cabinet. We’ve accepted your proposal". We had won. And since then, the government has met with me to receive feedback on their plan moving forward. Twenty-eight Ontario schools piloted a new course this past spring. The revised course will formally begin in September 2018.

Reflecting, I am happy the government has committed, but there is still much work to be done. I did this for the people who need it, who signed that petition, and who supported the initiative from the beginning. The course is one thing, but peer-to-peer, and parent-to-child conversations are another. Ultimately, the goal was raising consciousness in having these conversations about money management. I continue to attend financial literacy events and spread the message. Last month, I even became a board member—a goal I set for myself after attending a Volunteer Toronto ‘Becoming a Board Member’ workshop—for the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education.

 

My advice to youth

My advice on work/life/volunteer balance? I only do the things that I know I would fight for when I am beyond exhausted. If you see unmet needs in your community, be agile and work with the administration to drive change. Never take no as your final answer: it's just short for “not this way.” I did not know how my proposal would end up; just that I would fight for as long as it took to succeed. When I get older, I always want to be conscious of not underestimating young people, because I have been in the position where people underestimate just how much I can do. 

 

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Tags:  40 High School Community service hours  Career  City of Toronto Volunteers  How to give back  job experience  Legacy Awards  skilled volunteering  Skilled Volunteers  Teen volunteering  Toronto volunteers  Volunteer  volunteering for youth  volunteering in Toronto  Volunteerism  What's It Like To Volunteer  Youth Support  Youth Volunteers 

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5 Excellent Reasons to Attend our Seniors Fair

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, July 25, 2017
Updated: July 24, 2017
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Are you a boomer or a senior? Looking for a great way to give back to your community?

Join us for our free Seniors Volunteer Fair, where you'll meet face-to-face with 25+ non-profits recruiting volunteers like you.
Whatever your age, interests and skills or the amount of time you want to give back there are non-profits that would love your help.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
North York Seniors Centre
21 Hendon Avenue, near Finch & Yonge

Whether you want to plant flowers, deliver meals or read with children, 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, there will be non-profits out there who could use your help.

 

2)  Find out about some great non-profits

The non-profits that will be at the Seniors Volunteer Fair are doing great work in the community. This includes Habitat for Humanity, Hospice Toronto, Ernestine’s Shelter, Toronto Botanical Gardens and Toronto City Cultural Events, to name a few. These organizations are building homes, providing end-of-life care, assisting in emergencies, exploring natural beauty and celebrating our city. At the fair, you can find out how to lend a hand and help them with the great things they are doing. Check out our Seniors Volunteer Fair webpage to learn more about which non-profits are attending. 

 

3)  Volunteering leads to endless possibilities

People gain in all sorts of ways from volunteering. Volunteering has been proven to improve people’s physical and mental health, It is also a great way to meet people and make friends. You can learn so much from volunteering about yourself and your community. Volunteering provides a sense of meaning and  impacts the community around you. …. The possibilities are endless.  Check out Colin’s story to learn how volunteering changed his life. 

 

4)  It’s convenient

We are making finding a great volunteer opportunity easy for you! The North York Seniors Centre is two minutes from Finch TTC station. The building is fully accessible. There is parking close by. You’ll be able to meet 25+ great non-profits in your city. All of the organizations are looking for senior volunteers and will be promoting opportunities in North York and across the city. 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. 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. 

 

So what are you waiting for? We hope to see you at this unique event!

If you have any questions check out our Seniors Fair webpage or give Hamdi a call at
416-961-6888 ext 241.

 

 

Kelly Harbour 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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7 Grassroots Groups You Need to Follow in Toronto

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, March 24, 2017
Updated: March 24, 2017
 Grassroots Groups in Toronto

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Fuelled by pure passion and little-to-no-money, grassroots groups across Toronto are challenging the status quo. These community collectives are completely powered by volunteers and are calling for positive social change.

But who are they?

Volunteer Toronto has spent two years trying to find out, and by doing so is working to increase their capacity and community impact. Here are 7 grassroots groups that are driving social change in the 6ix:

 

1.   CivicTech Toronto

What do you get when you combine the tech-savvy and the socially conscious? A group of powerhouse digital entrepreneurs, set out to improve government policy for the greater good. Designers, urban planners, politicos, web developersthis grassroots group unites to take on civic challenges through weekly hackathons.

 

2.  Mornelle AllStars

Scarborough is a little brighter, and safer, due to the Mornelle AllStars, a group of tireless volunteers who are driving programming in their neighbourhood to make things ultimately safer. Need a walk to-or-from school? After-school programming? A shoulder to lean on? This grassroots group is here to help.

 

3. Fix the 6ix

What can you really buy with less than $5 in Torontothe truth is, very little. But many small things contribute to a greater good. This grassroots group is collecting your digital loose change and converting it into social change. Fix the 6ix will take the last bits from those random gift cards and combined with others, they will put it towards food, clothing and other items for shelters across the city.

 

4.   Shelter Movers of Toronto

Helping others flee abusive living situations is the goal of Shelter Movers of Toronto, who work tirelessly to relocate victims that need a safer space to call home. This group of volunteers offer free services, working collaboratively with victim service agencies, shelters and law enforcement to make a difference.

 

5.   Queers for Dinner

Nothing brings people together quite like a good meal. Queers for Dinner is doing just that: building friendships, fostering a sense of community, and belongingone bite at a time. They put on hugely successful events at great local restaurants, creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ folks and allies.

 

6.   Repair Café Toronto

Take recycling one step further to save the planet! Repair Cafe has an entirely new spin on your broken toaster or chair: don’t just toss it, try to fix it. Volunteers at this grassroots group run free sessions, teaching and empowering you to challenge wasteful thinking.

 

7.   Amanda’s Lemonade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and sell it to raise money for charity. This grassroots group is reviving the classic curbside lemonade stand and encouraging others to donate their proceeds to the causes they care about. This June Amanda’s Lemonade is hosting a World Record attempt for the most lemonade stands in a row!

 

Meet fearless volunteers from these, and other groups during the Grassroots Week Volunteer Fair on March 26 at the Toronto Reference Library.

 

Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.


Tags:  grassroots growth  grassroots leaders  Grassroots week  volunteer leaders 

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