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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.

 

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!

 

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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What is a Volunteer Advisor?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, August 15, 2016
Updated: August 12, 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 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 I 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 referral@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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