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7 Ways to Volunteer Working with Kids

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, August 13, 2018
 Volunteering with Kids

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Kids are lots of fun! Whether you’re looking for childcare experience or you just love being around children, volunteering in a children’s program can be meaningful and rewarding. Here are some of our favourite organizations where you can volunteer working with kids:

 

Toronto Public Library—Leading to Reading

The Leading to Reading program runs in libraries across the city. Volunteers partner with a student having reading and homework difficulties—with your encouragement and assistance you can help them get on track.

College Montrose Children's Place

College Montrose Children’s Place offers support to parents and caregivers. They run drop-in programs, workshops, and support groups—possible duties include craft activities, storytelling, or translation and interpretation. They have multiple locations in central west Toronto so you can lend a hand wherever is most convenient.

Ronald McDonald House

Traveling to the city for a child’s medical care can take a serious toll on families. Ronald McDonald House helps alleviate these stresses by offering a place to stay, childcare support, and a wide variety of activities. Find a program that interests you and apply!

St John the Compassionate Mission

St John’s runs a variety of programs serving kids with diverse backgrounds at their Scarborough and Riverdale locations. They particularly welcome anyone thinking about getting into education or teaching.

NUTMEG Soccer

Based in the Bathurst and Dundas area, NUTMEG is always looking for new volunteers to help organize their free soccer programs. You don’t have to be an experienced coach or soccer player—anyone with experience or interest in working with kids can be a great fit.

Centennial Infant and Childcare Centre

Centennial Infant and Childcare Centre offer programs that help children with special needs. Volunteer to provide one-on-one support under the supervision of qualified professionals.

YMCA Family Resource Centre

The YMCA takes on volunteers to help with their play-based programming for children from 18 months–12 years old. Volunteer opportunities are available in YMCA’s Family Resource Center in the Yonge and Wellesley area and in child care centres in the Halton, York, and Durham regions.

 

You can find these opportunities on our website—search by “Organization” to find the non-profit you’re most interested in.

Excited to volunteer with children but not interested in any of these organizations? You can find more opportunities by choosing “Childcare Positions” from the “Category” list. Once you find an opportunity you like apply using the instructions at the bottom of the posting.

 

Tags:  How to start volunteering  Volunteer  Ways to volunteer  Youth Support 

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6 Ways to Volunteer in High Park

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, 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. 

 

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 Volunteer Toronto, 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!

 

 

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 we 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 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, we’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. It can be helpful to talk to your volunteer supervisor about living with mental illness. This way, you don’t feel like you have to hide when you're 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. 

 

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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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 a Volunteer Advisor at 416-961-6888 x 232 or advisors@volunteertoronto.ca.

 

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.

 


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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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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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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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 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 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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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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What's it Like to Volunteer for... the Egale Youth OUTreach Counselling Centre

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, May 24, 2016
Updated: May 24, 2016

 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Population Served: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, and two-spirited (LGBTIQ2S) children and youth up to age 29 who are homeless, unstably housed, or at risk of homelessness or who are in need of a space in which to feel welcome and supported

When homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, violence and harassment combine with the experience of homelessness and other stressors, they take their toll on mental health and overall well-being. The Egale Youth OUTreach Counselling Centre (EYO) provides direct services to LGBTIQ2S youth to help address these challenges.

So, what part can you play in this organization?  According to Jesse Hatch, a Peer Resource Worker with the EYO, it can be as simple as playing a game of Uno or watching a movie! She states that peer support can come in uncommon but valid forms.  Below, Jesse shares her experience volunteering at the EYO.

Describe your role as a Peer Resource Worker.

JH: My role is focused on offering peer support and aiding in the preparation of fresh, nourishing meals and snacks for our service-users. I strive to create meaningful, healthy relationships with the youth and facilitate referrals to relevant and desired services whenever possible.

 

What is the time commitment involved?

JH: A regular shift at Egale is 4 hours weekly during the drop in hours of
3 p.m.-7p.m. On average, I volunteer for 16 hours a month. 

 

What type of training were you provided with?

JH: Egale provides informative and thorough training before you enter the space to volunteer. The training familiarizes volunteers with the appropriate use of language, boundaries and etiquette when interacting with service-users and is delivered through a harm reduction lens.

 

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

JH: Compassion and patience are crucial when interacting with people in crisis. It is important to be mindful of boundaries when interacting with service-users, while striving to provide the highest level of empathic support and care. For example, using inclusive language or actively engaging when an individual is relaying a personal experience or asking for your advice.

 

What have you learned from this volunteering experience?

JH: This experience has taught me the value of self-awareness and mindfulness when interacting with new people. Volunteering at the EYO reminds me that we should unpack what we bring into our interactions with others and examine the cursory assumptions we make about people.

 

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

JH: Critically analyze why you are drawn to a position before applying. You will likely thrive in this position if you feel like you might be suited for it, are drawn to it by personal experiences with queerness, have an interest in intersectionality and trauma-informed care and have a desire to help your community.

If you are interested in working with an organization with the following values:


·      LGBTIQ2S Affirming

·      Client Centric Service

·      Youth Empowerment

·      Strengths-Based Approach

·      Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression

·      Non-Judgment

·      Community and Collaboration


Contact Egale at 416-964-7887 or visit the Egale Website to learn about the various volunteer roles available and read some Frequently Asked Questions about the organization. 

 

Tags:  Human Rights  LGBT Rights  Volunteer  Volunteer in Toronto  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto  What's It Like To Volunteer  Youth Support 

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How Do I Find Out about Volunteering for Special Events?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, May 16, 2016
Updated: May 13, 2016
 Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our new 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: 4 minutes

Dear Volunteer Toronto,

 

My birthday is coming up soon, and I would love to spend the day volunteering for something fun! How do I find out about volunteering for special events?

Thanks so much,

LaKeisha

 

 



Hey LaKeisha,

What a wonderful email and question to receive. We're so glad that you are interested in spending your birthday volunteering for a great cause! As we enter the spring and summer you’ll find there are many special events looking for volunteers.

Some examples of current special event volunteer opportunities include setting up for large events, assisting at registration, taking photos, cheering on runners at a race, planting trees, serving meals,  performing at festivals and so much more!

The easiest way to find special event volunteer opportunities is to:

1. Go to www.volunteertoronto.ca/opportunities.



2. Leave all search categories blank except under “Type of Position” select “One Day or Less."

3. Click “Search."


 

4. Your results will bring up all Special Event Volunteer opportunities currently in our database.



5. You can then read through and choose positions that interest you. By clicking on them you’ll learn more information about the position.


Once you've settled on a position that fits your interest, time and location, please contact the organization directly either by email or phone depending on the information they posted in the position’s details. The contact information is generally listed at the bottom of the posting.

TIP: It is always best to apply to more than one volunteer position to widen your chances of getting a position.

We also encourage you to create a profile on our website so you can receive our Volunteer Times newsletter to learn more about volunteer opportunities across the city. 

If you need any additional help feel free to call a Volunteer Advisor at 416-961-6888 ext 232 who can help you navigate the website and answer any specific questions you have. 

Thanks again for your question. We hope you have an absolutely wonderful birthday! 

Best, 

Volunteer Toronto


Tags:  one-day events  volunteer  volunteer for birthday  volunteer for one day  volunteer in Toronto  Volunteer questions  volunteering on special events 

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Making Your Court-Ordered Community Services Hours Time Well Spent

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, April 25, 2016
Updated: April 14, 2016

Andre volunteering at the Dance Marathon

Andre (left) and Megan voluntering at Volunteer Toronto's Dance Marathon in support of SickKids

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

After receiving a traffic citation, I was required by court order, to complete 80 hours of community service, which at the time, seemed a very daunting task given my hectic, deadline-driven work schedule, long commute to and from home, as well as periods of extended travel. I began by looking to my personal and professional networks for connections that worked in the non-for-profit space that could perhaps refer me to volunteer positions that would allow me to leverage my work experience and skills. I noticed there were many volunteer positions that required candidates commit to a recurring schedule over the course of a few months, but due to my hectic schedule, I needed to find a volunteer position where I could help on either a single event or small number of events. Enter Volunteer Toronto…

There are several great online resources throughout the GTA that aggregate volunteer opportunities and offer a convenient listing of those positions. In general these websites allow you to search, review, and register for a variety of different tasks, events, and programs. After searching casually on a few, I kept coming back to the Volunteer Toronto website because I found it to be thorough and intuitive with a great variety of potential opportunities. The site allows you to search by category and surface specific types of work assignments: such as events that involve group activities, those that support people with disabilities, fundraising positions, consulting, and clerical tasks or some combination of the many options offered. What’s more, users can search by keyword if the particular category they’re seeking isn’t listed and then further sort through assignments by location. Further still, the site offers the ability to search based on duration of availability so one can find a one-day assignment, a short term (less than 3 months), long term (greater than 3 months) or indicate that the duration “doesn’t matter.” The search tools are robust and really help take any guesswork out of the process in addition to aggregating and providing consistent updates of the available positions.

My first volunteer assignment was with Central Eglinton Community Centre.  They offer programs and activities for seniors, children, and the general public. Over the course of a few months I helped with general labour and organizing events as well as supporting the leaders, coordinators, and presenters during programs such as: health care information sessions, sales of baked goods and books, and other programs for members, employees, and volunteers. I also helped to supervise the computer lab during designated hours so that registered members could have computer access and I helped those who needed assistance with internet research, email, and word processing. In addition to supporting the wide variety of events and programs that the centre offered I also volunteered at one-off events including: The United Way CN Tower Climb and both Volunteer Toronto’s Grassroots Growth launch event as well as their Dance Marathon in support of SickKids.

The best advice I can give to those looking to contribute or in need of volunteer hours as part of a requirement is to take advantage of the resources offered on the Volunteer Toronto website. Beyond the volunteer opportunity search page, they also have information on how to get started as a volunteer, frequently asked questions about volunteering, stories from past volunteers about their experience, and even a bi-weekly newsletters volunteer opportunities, free information sessions, and special events.

In order to help ensure that the experience is enjoyable and mutually beneficial one should come with an open mind, flexible attitude, and friendly demeanour as the specific needs may change as the event progresses. Approach the volunteer assignment with the same level of professional, engagement, and willingness to contribute as one would have with respect to a paid position.

After volunteering at a number of different events, the one key takeaway is that there are many organizations throughout the GTA offering important services and making meaningful contributions to the lives of Torontonians that, in order to provide those services to the community, need the help and dedication of volunteers. After gaining an appreciation for the value they offer I will absolutely continue to lend a hand and encourage others to join and make whatever contribution of their time, skills, and experience that they can. 


Tags:  416  Court-ordered community service  give back  mandatory community services  The6ix  Toronto  volunteer  volunteering in Toronto 

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