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The Volunteer Behind Getting Financial Literacy in the Classroom

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, 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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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!

 

Tags:  grassroots growth  grassroots leaders  Grassroots week  volunteer leaders 

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Can You Help Me Find a Volunteer Position that will Give Me a Visa?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, March 20, 2017
Updated: March 16, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

My name is Alejandro and I am living in Brazil. I want to come to Toronto as a volunteer. Can you help me find a volunteer position that will give me a visa? And it would be great if that position could pay for my room and board. Thanks,

Alejandro

 


 

Hello Alejandro,

Thanks for your email and your interest in volunteering in Toronto. This is a question we receive often and is important to clarify.

Volunteer Toronto supports people already living in Toronto who are looking to volunteer. We work with non-profits who are in search of volunteers in the city. If you move to Toronto, we would be happy to help you find a meaningful volunteer position. You can check out all current opportunities at volunteertoronto.ca.

None of the non-profit organizations we work with provide visas for volunteer work, as they look to recruit volunteers already living in Toronto. Additionally, if you do an online search you can find websites that may offer room and board for volunteering in Canada, however we are not connected to these organizations.

Hope this information was helpful and if you do come to Toronto, please do get in touch so we can help you find a meaningful volunteer opportunity!

 

Tags:  Ask Kelly  volunteer in Canada  volunteer visa 

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Do I Need to Speak Perfect English to Volunteer?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, February 6, 2017
Updated: February 3, 2017
 <Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help! 

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

I have been looking for volunteering in non-profit organizations for almost two months but I didn't find anything. I am new in Canada and my English is not perfect yet. Is it affecting on opportunities that exist?

Susan

 


 

Hello Susan,

Welcome to Toronto and thanks so much for wanting to volunteer. It is hard to say exactly why you haven’t found a volunteer position, but we can give you some tips for the application process.

  1. Choose Positions That Fit

    There are hundreds of different positions on our website. Before applying for positions spend some time reflecting on what kind of volunteering you`d like to do. Then, when researching positions, be sure to look at their requirements. Are they asking for fluency in English? Are they asking for certain types of experience? You’ll have better luck if you apply for positions that fit your current skills and strengths.

  2. Follow the Instructions on How to Apply

    Volunteer Toronto works with over 600 different non-profit organizations. At the bottom of a posting you will find a Contact/How to Apply section, which should outline what steps you need to take to apply. This could include sending an email, filling out an application form or making a phone call among other things. It is important to follow the instructions to show that you can pay attention to detail, respect the wishes of the volunteer coordinator and care about the position.

  3. Come Across Professionally

    Making a great first impression can go a long way in the application process. Coming across professionally will help your application shine above the rest. You should customize your application to the specific role and clearly introduce yourself and why you are interested in the position. Make sure to answer all questions fully and before submitting your application, double check everything for spelling and grammar.

  4. Demonstrate You Care

    Non-profit organizations rely on volunteers to help them achieve their mission. If you care about the work they do or the community they serve demonstrate this in your application. The more concrete your reasons the better! For example, do you want to volunteer with seniors because your grandma played an important role in your life? Do you want to tutor science because you want to share your passion? Explain this in your application.

  5. Don’t Give Up

    Sometimes you might find a great position and write an amazing application that clearly demonstrates why it’s the perfect fit and still not get the position. Although that can be disappointing, do not give up! Sometimes the position may have just been filled. Or the volunteer coordinator was overwhelmed with applications. Or there was a better candidate out there. Please don’t give up. Keep applying and striving to find a good fit, because when you do it will be worth it.

Tags:  Ask Kelly  ESL volunteers  How long does it take to find a volunteer position  How to volunteer as a newcomer  Kelly Harbour 

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Can I Volunteer for My Birthday?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 23, 2017
Updated: January 19, 2017
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? She’s here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

For my birthday, my friends and I would like to volunteer. Is this kind of thing possible? Are there any opportunities we can do as a group? Can you please let me know?

Ahkal

 


 

Hello Akhal,

Thanks so much for your interest in volunteering with your friends. Most opportunities to volunteer with your friends are one-time special events such as festivals, fundraisers and marathons. These opportunities occur throughout the year, and are particularly abundant in the spring and summer.

Volunteering for your birthday sounds like fun! All of our group volunteer opportunities depend on the needs of the organizations we work with, so it is hard to predict if there will be an opportunity specifically on your birthday. You’ll have better success if you are open to looking for something anytime during your birth month.

We don’t know how many friends you’re thinking about inviting, but before you send out those invitations know that the average group opportunity asks for sizes of 5-10 people. It is quite difficult to find opportunities for groups larger than 10.

To find group opportunities that suite your birthday interests please search volunteertoronto.ca/opportunities and use Category “4. Suitable for Groups”. You’ll then be able to read through opportunities and when one interests you, you can apply by following the instructions in the “How to Apply/Contact” section. Just so you know, the opportunities on our website change daily, so if you don’t find something that interests you right now, be sure to check back soon.

Hope you have fun Akhal! Happy birthday!

Thanks for reaching out,

Volunteer Toronto

 

 

Tags:  Kelly Harbour  volunteer in group  Volunteer with friends 

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Do You Have Volunteer Opportunities in Mississauga?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 24, 2016
Updated: December 19, 2016
 "> Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? She’s here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hey Volunteer Toronto,

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. We 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 we wish you great luck as you seek out a volunteer opportunity.

 

 

 

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

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

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 23, 2016
Updated: October 22, 2016
Teens heart shape 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

Volunteering for the first time can be tricky. From making a good impression to deciding what to wear, on your first day you'll face all sorts of challenges. Not to worry though, every committed volunteer makes it through their first day. Here are 6 tips to help reduce the challenges, so you’re just left with facing the real world.

 

1Pre-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 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? We 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.


 

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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Can I Use My Financial Experience to Volunteer at a Bank?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 11, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Hello Volunteer Toronto, 

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. We are 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 we encourage you to sign-up for our newsletter, attend an information session or contact a Volunteer Advisor.

Many thanks,

Volunteer Toronto 

 

 

Tags:  skilled volunteering  Toronto  Volunteer  volunteer in a bank  volunteer in a profession  volunteering 

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What's it Like to Volunteer as... a Friendly Visitor?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, 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!

 


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

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How Can I Get My 40 Hours?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, September 12, 2016
Updated: September 9, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes



Hi Volunteer Toronto,

 

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! We encourage you to use our helpful Reflect, Research and Reach Out model to find positions that suite your interests and skills.

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,

Volunteer Toronto


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

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7 Ways You Can Volunteer to Help the Homeless

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, 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 advisors@volunteertoronto.ca or call 416-961-6888.

 

 

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

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 Volunteer Toronto, 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!

 


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What is a Volunteer Advisor?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, August 15, 2016
Updated: February 5, 2020
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes



Dear Volunteer Toronto,

 

I heard that Volunteer Toronto has Volunteer Advisors 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 Volunteer Advisor services at Volunteer Toronto.

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

Our Volunteer Advisors are wonderful volunteers who come in one day a week to support people who are looking to volunteer. The advisors 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 Volunteer Advisor 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 we do encourage you to think a bit about what you’re interested in.

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

After speaking with a Volunteer Advisor 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 Volunteer Advisor 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 Volunteer Advisors 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 Volunteer Advisors are a large part of making that happen! Feel free to contact an Advisor 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 advisors@volunteertoronto.ca.

Thanks so much for your excellent question Antoniette!

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

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What's it Like to Volunteer for... a Special Event?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, July 18, 2016
Updated: July 15, 2016

2016 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards - Volunteer 
Photo courtesy of the YWCA. View on Flickr

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Have you ever dreamed of helping bring a big event to life? Does the idea of organizing a star-studded gala for a good cause fill you with excitement? Then consider volunteering as part of a special events team! Whether it’s a small appreciation party, or a major international fundraiser, at many events volunteers make sure events go off without a hitch.

Angela Ho, volunteer on the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 
 Angela Ho

We chatted with Angela Ho, a volunteer with YWCA Toronto about her role as a Production Assistant for the organization’s annual Women of Distinction Awards.

 

 

      



 

 

What’s the name of the organization you volunteer for and what is your role there?

I’ve volunteered with the YWCA Toronto, an organization that advocates for women and girls, for three years. I worked as a Production Assistant for the annual Women of Distinction Awards and gala. This event recognizes outstanding women who create new opportunities and strengthen the voices of women and girls in the community.

 

How would you describe your current volunteer role?

As a Production Assistant, I provide behind-the-scenes support for the gala. I work backstage to organize awards for distribution and provide stage directions to presenters.

 

Was training provided for your role?

Volunteers are required to attend a 1-2 hour orientation session before the event. During this meeting, volunteers meet other team members, receive a behind-the-scenes event overview, and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) training.

 

What is the time commitment involved?

The time commitment involved for this role is about 4 hours, including the pre-event orientation and activities on the day of the gala. People often assume that volunteering requires a long-term commitment. However, there are many short-term opportunities like this one that are still extremely important.

 

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

This role requires organization, patience, and attention to detail. I think the ability to be personable and detail-oriented matters more than any specific technical skill.

To be successful as a Production Assistant, a volunteer must be able to follow directions while taking initiative to ensure things are executed correctly. You must be comfortable working in the dark (literally as you’re behind the stage!) and willing to help others make the most of their moment to shine!

 

What have you learned from your volunteering? What has been surprising or challenging?

I’ve developed a strong appreciation for the amount of teamwork and time it takes to make an event run smoothly. That being said, it's also important to be flexible and able to problem solve quickly. Despite all the planning that goes into an event, there will always be unexpected challenges!

 

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

Be open to volunteering in roles that are out of your comfort zone, you'll learn skills and meet many different people. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions!


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

 


Tags:  Awards Ceremony Volunteer  Event Volunteering  One-Day Volunteer Opportunities  short-term volunteering  YWCA 

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What Is A Reference? Who Would Make A Good Reference?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, July 11, 2016
Updated: July 8, 2016
 "> Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us" is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes



Dear Volunteer Toronto,

 

I am interested in volunteering in an office environment, and I see several postings say that I will need to provide references. What is a reference? Who would be a good a reference?

Thanks!

Singh

 



Hello Singh,

Thank you so much for your email and your interest in volunteering. You ask a great question that we receive often. When you are going through the application process for a volunteer position, if the organization is interested in offering you the position, the organization may ask for references.

References are people that can answer questions about your character, your work ethic, your skills and how well you will do the role. Organizations ask for references as another way of ensuring you’re a good fit for the position.

When choosing who will be a reference for you, think about someone who knows you well and can speak to your work-related qualities.  Ideally a reference is someone who has known you in a supervisory role including a past employer, volunteer coordinator, teacher, professor, landlord, caseworker or a coach. If this isn’t possible, for a volunteer position, you could also include references who are friends. It is usually okay if your references are not in Canada. You should not include family members as references for volunteer positions.

If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask the organization what kind of reference they are looking for. A professional reference would be someone you worked with, and a personal reference would be a friend.

Also, volunteering can be a great way to gain a new reference. If you do your role well, you may be able to have the volunteer coordinator or staff supervisor you work with be a future reference for you.

Hope that helps Singh. Best of luck as you pursue an office volunteer position.


Tags:  volunteer  volunteer interview  volunteer reference  volunteer screening  volunteering to find work 

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