Engaging Our Youth

Written by: Julena Breel, Youth Programmer

Recently the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance held a panel event called “Clayoquot Conversations: The Legacy and Future of Clayoquot Sound” at Alix Goolden Performance Hall. Lead by Elizabeth May speakers included veteran environmentalists, reporters and representatives from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Band Council. During one of the responses a panel member was quoted as saying, “I have come to hate parks; in my opinion they represent what is wrong in society. You see something so blatantly beautiful and you make it into a National Park as to protect it. National Parks are just proof our civilization not only doesn’t trust itself but can’t control itself.” Having never thought of this before it resonated deeply. Why is it that we can’t just see nature and understand it to be sacred, why do we need a wooden sign displaying “BC Parks” for us to leave it untouched? To me if the leaders of today see it as important then who do they not trust? A look around the room gave one potential answer – our future generations, our future leaders, our youth. There was not a soul to be seen under the age of 25, leaving myself and a few scattered emerging professionals in the room the youngest in attendance.

Given the Clayoquot Sound protest occurred in 1993 when the majority of whom we define as ‘youth’ in BC were either not born or still potty-training it is not surprising that the auditorium was not packed with Twitter-pro’s and selfie-gurus. However, it does leave the question, where are they? Is it that they are simply uninterested in such things, do they not know it is happening or is the event format one that does not appeal to them?

Youth face challenges that can be similar no matter what the generation – body image, job security, and struggle for independence – however passion is not one of them. Youth are some of the most driven, self-motivated and zealous people in Greater Victoria. The Youth Team just recently received an email from one of our clients who has been having a tough time finding work lately. He even is coming up against some barriers in the volunteer sector. Because of such he thought he would put his energy into something he enjoyed and so, created a small aquaponic system. In laymen’s terms this is an aquarium/vegetable hybrid; you grow veggies on top and as you water them the liquid is filtered into the aquarium below. It’s gorgeous and labor-intensive. If that is not appreciation for the environment and our personal carbon footprint then what is?

It is not passion that hinders youth from attending and gaining new tools and expertise to step into the future with – they care, and their hearts are in it. So what prevents the physical presence?

Well, unfortunately this generation has been raised in a flashy, quick, visually appealing era. If you can’t catch their eyes with signs and facts, it can be even harder to catch their hearts. Leaving the auditorium it was clear that while rich in content and knowledge the presentation didn’t leave one carrying many tangible take-aways out the door. Although the purpose of the event was to shed light on the past in hopes of changing the future it seemed to get stuck in history and the shift to present-day came too late. For youth, that simply won’t cut it. Digestible history facts paired with attainable personal shifts works wonders for the generation that survives off 140 character messages and instant updates. #SadIKnow.

There is a wealth of information to be left for youth from previous generations and it asks a lot of them to change formats that feel comfortable and dependable to embrace ones whose foundations are rooted in quick and striking however the Youth Team argues is might be necessary to not only keep those inter generational lines of communication open but allow them to flourish. Our youth are passionate and keen and if we as a community can meet them where they are at the opportunities for our invested projects are endless. 

Where Can Volunteering Take You?

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Melody was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you! 

Ever wondered how you can take that first step out into your community? Maybe you would like to gain new skills, give back to a meaningful cause or simply get out of the house. No matter what your destination may be, you can use volunteering as a stepping stone towards your ultimate goal. Not only will you learn and grow through new experiences, volunteering can also present you with new opportunities that you may not otherwise have. 

Volunteering can be extremely helpful when you’re searching for employment. It could be a job that you’ve had your eyes on for years but don’t have the qualifications for.  One of the best ways to boost your resume and get ahead of the competition is to volunteer. This will not only reflect positively on you, it will also give potential employers a glimpse what your passions may be. By adding volunteering onto your resume, interviewers will see you as someone who has taken some initiative. You will also gain valuable skills and experiences through your community involvement and this can help you obtain your dream job. 

A handy thing to keep in mind is that employers are more likely to hire a person when they’ve seen samples of their work. Volunteering strategically can help you gain a position in an organization or if you’re just starting a new career, a good way to gain experience is to obtain a volunteer position related to your career field. Volunteering is also a great way to increase your network and discover new jobs that might otherwise be unknown to you. 

The best things in life often happen unexpectedly. Getting to know new people and being in a new environment can give you a different perspective of your community and the world around you. 

Maybe you’ve been volunteering for years and one day you have the opportunity to turn your passion into your career. These can be the most rewarding types of jobs because now you can be paid for doing something that you greatly enjoy. Volunteering is something at can open many new doors and take you to places you have never imagined. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you want to do in life and volunteering might just set you down a whole new and exciting path.

Stepping into Volunteering

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Sara was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you! 

          When I first got interested in volunteering I was completely at a loss as to how I should go about getting involved, nor was I sure what kind of volunteer position I would be suited for so I definitely needed some help. Not knowing what else to do I went to my ‘best friend’ google, searching for ‘volunteering in Victoria’ Volunteer Victoria’s website was one of the first I visited and it quickly caught my interest with a section dedicated to helping youth volunteer. I decided to try getting in contact with the youth program and I got a response within a few days! Through email I set up a meeting, I was pretty nervous at first but once I stepped into the office everyone was really welcoming, within in a few minutes into the meeting my nerves had changed into excitement. It was in this meeting that I found out about the Youth Summit, it immediately had my interest because it would be a chance to learn, gain experience and meet other people interested in volunteering. Although I was spot on with all of that, the Summit exceeded my expectations in every way! Getting involved in the Youth Summit and Volunteer Victoria was definitely one the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now with everything I’ve learned and the support of both the friends I’ve made and that of everyone at Volunteer Victoria I will be stepping into the world of volunteering! Maybe I’ll see you there! 


A Method to Destroy Stigma

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Cammy was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you!

            Everyone is unique, it’s a fact well known, and we all have different backgrounds and come from different situations, though at times similar, still unique. When speaking of Canada, a topic that commonly arises is the diversity. Well, the Community Youth Leadership Summit was no different. Walking into the Volunteer Victoria office Monday morning none of us knew each other, our ages ranged greatly, we all came from different schools and parts of town, some not even from the province or country, and we all had different stories. All of us, facilitators included had a unique way of seeing tings and brought separate things to the table.

            What made me different? My background. I am a youth in a form of government care and at one point or another, been in most forms of government care there is – whether it be youth agreement or foster care. I represent a large but silent, widely unknown and misunderstood population. It’s an unknown population mostly because those included in it don’t dare tell anyone that they are in care for fear of facing the stigma against us. The stigma and stereotypes created stem from a lack of knowledge in the general public so they believe that these youth are trouble, no good, going nowhere, among other things.

            Now what exactly does this have to do with Volunteer Victoria or the Community Youth Leadership Summit? Well, simple. Throughout the week we have been taught many great reasons to volunteer such as: to make a difference; to give back to the community; to gain skills; it’s a passion; or it could be used as a stepping stone into your future, as well as many more. Another reason could be to help reduce negative stigma.

            Using volunteering as a method to make an impact on stigma or stereotypes can work in many ways. One of this being that if you happen to encounter a person trying to force the stigma upon you, volunteering and giving back to the community tends to prove otherwise. Another options is to be an advocate. Say you get talking with another volunteer about each other or family history comes up, you might tell them a little bit about your experience in care or explain what it is, and in very little time, that will be one person more who knows a bit of truths about foster children. One less person who may believe the stereotypes and listen to the stigma, and they may go tell another. Before you know it, the domino effect takes place and even more people have knowledge. Ion my experience as a founder of the Victoria Youth in Care Network, telling people who know nothing, even the littlest thing has had a large impact on them. It is a great way to bring awareness to your community at the same time as helping to make the community a better place. This can work for many things, youth in care is only the example I used as I write that I personally have experienced.

            Volunteering is a great experience no matter your reasons. You can find opportunities for pretty much anything you may be interested in doing or trying. Another huge reason volunteering is fantastic is you get the change to meet people you may not otherwise have gotten to, you make fantastic friends, and that makes it all the more fun and worth your while. 

Rediscovering Myself Through Volunteering

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Kathy was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you!

My name is Kathy, I’m sixteen years old, and I recently participated in this year’s Community Youth Leadership Summit at Volunteer Victoria. This week has really opened my eyes to the entire world of volunteerism that is located right in Victoria and gave me the confidence and encouragement to keep volunteering.

 Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved making the people around me smile. Whether it was by holding a door for a stranger, handing out candy at Halloween, or simply cracking a joke,  I always found ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.  a person’s beaming face was a sight I could never become tired of.

 As I started growing up however, helping others became less and less a priority. Especially starting high school, I felt like I was exposed to a new world. I was introduced to the idea of “fitting in” and I started thinking about of myself and what others thought. During my time immersed in my self centered world, I knew in the back of my mind I wasn’t being my true self.

 It wasn’t until grade ten that I truly understood the impact of volunteerism. I unexpectedly found myself in a leadership position leading a grade retreat for a group of elementary schools aged youth. So, a group of my classmates and I started preparing for the day of the retreat and it gave me the opportunity to get to know more of my peers who had the same love for helping others. I was overcome with enthusiasm and fulfillment from being part of a team working together to deliver a lively retreat.

 The entire retreat was full of singing, playing, and laughing. I remember looking out at all of the kids and seeing so many genuine smiles. I quickly realized that I had a lot of power– the power to bring light into other people’s lives. In those moments, I knew that I was being my true self, the best version of myself.

 Through my experience, I learned that volunteering is a way to bring me back to my true self and it helped me balance my priorities at the same time. I used volunteering as a tool to help me rediscover myself by bringing out the good qualities I always had within me. Seeing the joy of everyone around me and knowing that I was a part of it drives me to continue helping others today.

Steps to Volunteer: A Youth’s Perspective.

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Eva was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you!

My name is Eva, I’m fifteen years old and I was a participant in Volunteer Victoria’s Community Youth Leadership Summit. During our time at the summit, we learned key tips and tricks for developing our cover letters and resumes, analyzing job posts, and being interviewed in a professional manner. We also became certified in CPR A, took a stroll through downtown learning about Victoria’s not-for-profits on United Way’s Impact tour and did some hands on volunteering at the Rainbow Kitchen Association, painting and cleaning their storage areas.

Oh, and we had lots of fun doing it!

This is what volunteerism should be about. I’m happy to offer my time, skills and effort to a cause in which I have found a passion.  I like to think of volunteerism as an exchange. Sure, you aren’t being paid for your work in money, but there is so much to get out of volunteering, and that’s part of the reason that makes volunteering an ideal activity for everyone. Whether you’re doing it for school credit, to learn something new, to share existing skills, to feel part of a community, for recognition, to become well rounded, to be an agent of change, to build your resume, to explore a career… the possibilities are endless. And volunteering can also be used as a stepping-stone for paid work in the not-for-profit sector, as demonstrated by our dedicated Youth Team coordinators, Julia-Anne and Julena.

You also should never feel bad for receiving recognition for your work, and while it shouldn’t be the only reason you began volunteering, it’s always nice to be recognized for doing something you love.

I go to St. Michael’s University School, and you better believe they keep you busy there: advanced placement classes, tests and homework. Not to mention other extra curricular activities like clubs, councils, sports teams, and fundraiser. And the thing is, I love it. I love to keep busy, I thrive in a fast-paced environment where I can do the things I love. My ideal volunteer position would be in an engaging environment where you can bring your own creativity and experiences to the table.

 What are the steps towards volunteering? It’s no picnic. The benefits, however, make volunteer an experience that you will never regret!

 Discover yourself. Who am I? What kind of volunteer am I? What are your passions? How do you approach a problem? How do you prefer to work? The answers to these questions could help you discover the most rewarding volunteer opportunity.

 Consider what your passions are, and what skills you have to offer. This will help you choose where you want to volunteer. If your passion is with animals, try volunteering at a local rescue shelter. If you’re passionate about literacy you can volunteer at the library, or become a tutor or peer note taker.

Of course, you can develop new skills and learn many things by volunteering, but your volunteer work can still be compatible with your interests. I, for example, am passionate about social justice issues, specifically aboriginal and women’s issues. Thus, I considered volunteering at the Didi Society – geared towards empowering women and children through fair trade – through their markets, or helping our at Restorative Justice Victoria. If it’s something you love, make it your own and feel good sharing your skills and passion.

 Start small. If you’re like me and already have a busy schedule, volunteering your time for an hour or two per week is a great way to get started without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. The amount of change you can create in such a short time might surprise you. Then, if you find you enjoy the work and have more time to pursue it, you can gradually take on more and bring your own personal flair to your work. Try not to get pressured into volunteering, or taking on too much. If it stops being rewarding and starts being a chore, back off or take a break.

 Get to know others. Through your volunteer work, you’ll build a network of people who have similar goals and passions as you, who all come from different backgrounds and have different skills. Getting to know the people with whom you volunteer is one of the best parts of volunteerism. You could attend a training or orientation session, if one is available; if not, talk to local group leaders and other volunteers in the community about their experiences. You’ll learn what to expect of an organization and your work with it, and you’ll pick up some good tips to make your work there more productive and more meaningful.

 Don’t become discouraged. Like in any real-world situation, volunteering can have its ups and downs. Sometimes, the tasks aren’t always glamorous, but know that even painting a room can benefit an organization. When our group was finished our job, our clothes were covered in paint but we were still proud. Imagine if it had only been the church staff painting that room, it would have taken forever! But with our help, they will be able to rent it out to make more money on the side to support the Rainbow Kitchen Association and the work they do.

 HAVE FUN! This seems like a no-brainer, but always remember to love what you do. You’ll be more productive, and your enthusiasm will inspire others to follow their passions and help their communities.

Introduction to Volunteer Victoria’s Community Youth Leadership Summit

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change this world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”  – Margret Mead

 I was reminded of this quote in so many ways this year during the first week of summer. Not only is it a personal favourite – I have it on a sticky note on my laptop – but it truly encompassed the energy and enthusiasm of Volunteer Victoria’s Community Youth Leadership Summit participants to a T. Regardless of whether the youth were on the United Way’s Impact Tour or engaging in a round table discussion about human rights as they relate to interview questions, I kept finding myself thinking, these kids are going places.

 Here at Volunteer Victoria the Youth Team works in a variety of ways to help youth throughout Greater Victoria connect to their community through meaningful and strategic volunteering. What is strategic volunteering you might find yourself wondering? Essentially it’s walking the delicate balance beam of receiving as much as you give through volunteering; the best of both worlds. While volunteering in and of its self is an amazing gift and something we at Volunteer Victoria strive to promote both professionally and personally, we also believe you should leave feeling rewarded for your hard work and dedication. In a lot of life’s facets this would come in the form of a cheque, a dollar amount to show appreciation for your time and energy. However, in volunteering the benefits can look like a multitude of things and finding the one that suits your needs the best is a goal the Youth Team aims to meet. For example, some volunteer for the outstanding training agencies can provide, others for free admission into events or festivals, and some give to their community through organizations that have helped those around them. Despite the fact these benefits will look different for everyone and mean something unique to each volunteer, there is a constant –any one you choose or need the Youth Team can help get you there.

Easy. Right? That’s what we thought too.

 Throughout the Youth Team’s involvement in the community we have noticed the benefits and rewards to volunteering that we think are strategic (volunteering at a hospital to increase your application to med school and knowledge of health care) are sometimes being lost in the race to complete a set amount of hours in order to graduate. While the completion of this is important, we have started to see youth volunteer in amazing ways at a variety of places but only reap the numerical hour value from their work rather than the life skills and knowledge they have gained in addition. The need for practical hands-on training regarding the volunteer sector:  how to get involved purposefully and how to present these educational pieces of wealth in a professional way became apparent. In an effort to meet this Volunteer Victoria created the Community Youth Leadership Summit – a week long program aimed to give greater meaning to the word ‘volunteer’ by not only showing youth how volunteering can enhance their skills and help in achieving their dreams but how to excel at showcasing their attributes through workshops, presentations and volunteering.  

We were so fortunate to work with 10 outstanding youth who really exemplified Margret Mead’s words through their dedication to the process and their willingness to learn and challenge themselves both individually, as a group, and in the community at large. Part of the program involved the opportunity to write a blog post for Volunteer Victoria, this is simply the introduction to the incredible literature to come.

 These youth reminded us within the Youth Team that the work we do collectively, both within our office and as a community, for youth matters. The ripple effect these youth who ‘graduated’ from this program will have locally and globally, in our minds, will be instrumental. Their ideas and opinions are relevant, important and meaningful. They will change this world, we just were lucky enough to help along the way.

 So here’s to them, the 10 fantastic youth who took a week from their sun-filled summers to work with us in learning how they can walk that balance beam in the not-for-profit sector, how they can have the best of both worlds, and how they can highlight themselves for the outstanding emerging leaders they are. They are pretty wonderful and we hope you enjoy getting to see a glimpse of each one through their writing. Thank you Cammy, Sara, Leah, Melody, Brooke, Eva, Holly, Kathy, Angus and Hisashi, you made the start of our summer the best week yet. 

Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Team Recognizes Nicole Liu

This post is written by Julena Breel , Youth Placement Support Worker at Volunteer Victoria

National Volunteer Week, this year spanning from April 21st – April 27th, is all about volunteer recognition. It’s a celebration of the commitment, dedication and passion volunteers give our country and communities daily.

In 1943 this week was created to celebrate Canadian women who gave tremendous and imperative war-related efforts from the home-front. 71 years later the reasons to say thanks are vaster than ever. From campaigners to graphic designers to board members, volunteer positions encompass them all. In 2010 Stats Canada estimated that over half of Canadians volunteer their time yearly. That’s over 17 million people generously giving back to charities and causes they believe in! Pat yourself on the back Canada, that’s phenomenal.

Here at Volunteer Victoria we are extremely lucky to be surrounded by a group of volunteers whose time is vital for our organization and whose positive demeanors uplift our office daily. National Volunteer Week is important,  so the Youth Volunteer Connections Program, on behalf of Volunteer Victoria, wishes to use this opportunity to express gratitude to one of their extraordinary volunteers: Nicole Liu.

Nicole is going on her third year volunteering at Volunteer Victoria and in doing so has become a critical team player in the office. Nicole  started volunteering with the Youth Volunteer Connections Program in 2010 doing data entry and short term project support. Throughout the years she has provided invaluable feedback to the program by participating in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of YVCP, generating surveys, and interviewing new staff hires.

Nicole speaks with enthusiasm regarding her growth within the agency saying, “I have developed skills that include increased responsibility, multi-tasking, working independently and written and oral communication”. It speaks to Nicole’s organizational strength and time management skill set that she took on additional volunteer capacities during the transition of Volunteer Victoria’s Manager of Training and Outreach.

Nicole will be graduating this year from Mount Douglas Secondary and has decided to pursue her studies with the University of Victoria starting in September. Although the career field is ripe with opportunity Nicole wants to take this time to learn about as many routes as possible before declaring a major. Here at Volunteer Victoria we’re not only thrilled she’s doing what makes her happy but we’re ecstatic that this so happens to be in Victoria! She’s a one of a kind lady, filled with creative ideas, a supportive attitude and a desire to constantly learn and be challenged.

According to Victoria Foundation’s Youth 2012 Vital Signs, Nicole joins the 53% of youth aged 15-24 who volunteer in our community. Those youth, alongside the adult volunteers who also give their time tirelessly, are what make Victoria one of the greatest places to call home. It’s truly the people who give back as much as they get from the capital of BC that make our city shine.

On behalf of Volunteer Victoria, to all of those who give their time locally and globally, thank you. We appreciate and value you tremendously. An unknown author once said, “There is no “I” in team but we sure are glad there is “U” in our volunteers.” We couldn’t agree more.


A New Year’s Resolution Anyone?

Sarah Norton is a Journalism and Media Communications graduate from the University of Wollongong, Australia. After studying for a semester at the University of Victoria, Sarah fell in love with the place and has recently moved back. She has a great passion for travelling and making a difference through writing, and is excited about being part of the Volunteer Victoria, volunteer team. 

A New Year means a new you, and what better way to begin 2013 than to get involved with volunteering?

With all of the amazing volunteer opportunities Victoria has, sometimes finding the right one can be overwhelming and daunting, which is where Volunteer Victoria can help.

VolWeb is Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer database with a lot of wonderful opportunities to choose from. Initially created to encourage volunteerism and increase access to volunteer opportunities across Canada leading up to and beyond the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it’s now helping build a legacy that will benefit the community for years to come.

The website allows you to build a network with experienced and enthusiastic volunteers who contribute to the success of local events by connecting people with opportunities at special occasions, from major sporting events and conferences to local festivals, fundraisers and community celebrations. If you would like more information on posting your volunteer opportunities to VolWeb and the many other benefits of being a Volunteer Victoria Member Agency, please give us a call!

To help with your volunteer quest, the incredible Volunteer Victoria team has selected some standout positions and opportunities from the site that they see as valuable learning experiences, or as stepping-stones toward their goals.

Youth Volunteer Connections Program Coordinator, Julia-Anne says, “the staff walks the talk and truly believes in the volunteer experience.”

So here are some of the standout positions they chose:

Access Program Coordinator, Lornna Olson expresses her excitement about all of the great new opportunities coming up on the board! Her current recommendation is Seedy Saturday, which is happening in mid-February. It’s where people bring seeds to trade for other seeds. The event hosts people who are sorting, itemising, dividing and re-bagging seeds, which means they can always use volunteers.

“It’s a great day. I volunteer every year at the seed exchange,” she exclaims.

A great perk if you volunteer is free event entry.

“You can look at all the displays and watch the budding farm maidens flirt wildly with the strapping farm lads!” says Lornna. “For the last two years I’ve accompanied two different clients there for volunteer support. It’s just a safe, fun, and friendly place.”

Youth Support Worker, Julena Breel suggests three amazing volunteer opportunities if you a) love kids, b) love sports, or c) love to mix the two and throw in some camping as well. She highlights the ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor’ opportunity as a must, “because I love kids.” Adding the ‘Special Olympics Victoria BC’ to her list, “because I love sports.” Finally promoting the ‘Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay’, “because sending kids to camp is pretty much my dream job and this is the most fun you’ll have volunteering,” she says.

Finally Julia-Anne tells me that she loves the posting about volunteering as a Fitness Coach for the Victoria Youth Custody Service. “It seems totally fun and hands on!” she says.

It’s an opportunity to coach young offenders in a youth facility on proper use of Universal Fitness Equipment. It’s a long-term commitment, asking for 90-minute sessions once a week for at least 6 months. Training is provided and you gain invaluable experience working with at-risk youth in a custody setting, plus the greatest reward is having a positive impact on a young person’s life.  

Upon perusing the large and diverse database I also came across some gems to share. It was hard to decide which opportunities to pick out because there are so many amazing options.

If you love hockey, then the Macquarie Rink of Dreams is a perfect opportunity offered by the Help Fill a Dream Foundation. It’s a 24-hour hockey event held on March 23rd and 24th at the Bear Mountain Arena. Anyone’s welcome, regardless of their skill level and there’s a Tailgate Party for the whole family afterward. There are 14 different positions available from guest services and event operations to set-up/take-down volunteers.

If learning and social justice are more your thing, the Social Justice Youth Conference are looking for event promotion volunteers. You’ll be responsible for event operations, marketing and PR, event coordination, fundraising, and set-up/take-down. It’s hosted by the Didi Society, inviting youth from across Greater Victoria to participate in a morning of skill-based workshops, followed by networking and sharing in the afternoon. The position requires communications tasks such as contacting the media, inviting guests, presenting at schools, and more. You’re rewarded with full-day conference entry, a Didi Society t-shirt, and invaluable mentorship.

If your passion lies with healthy living and you’re looking for an ongoing project, then Child Health Clinic Volunteering with Prevention Services (VIHA) may be just what you’re looking for. You greet and check in children and their families, complete paperwork, assist with weighing and recording client information, and refer to concerns and questions about children and their parents to the nurses.

Another great ongoing opportunity that will get your creative juices flowing and planning skills into action is with the fun-filled event, Creatively United for the Planet. They’re looking for pre-festival planning committee volunteers, willing to give four hours of their time each week leading up to the event. The opportunity asks for administration, event operations, marketing and PR, fundraising, data entry, and word processing. This is an all-ages art, cultural, and healthy living event to celebrate Earth Week. It raises funds for environmental-based charities, and creates awareness about calling to action for a positive change.

There is literally a volunteer position for everyone and Volunteer Victoria can help you find it, or even create it! So visit the VolWeb site, contact Volunteer Victoria, and start getting excited about all of the amazing ways you can contribute to the community this year! I’m definitely excited to keep writing about them.

Youth Group Takes Warm Initiative

Sarah Norton is a Journalism and Media Communications graduate from the University of Wollongong, Australia. After studying for a semester at the University of Victoria, Sarah fell in love with the place and has recently moved back. She has a great passion for travelling and making a difference through writing, and is excited about being part of the Volunteer Victoria, volunteer team. 

It’s a typical winter afternoon in Victoria: cold, dark and wet. Walking to Shelbourne Street Church I think about having to stay out in this weather all night, every night, not being bundled up in my coat and scarf. The thought is frightening.

It’s an idea that one amazing group of youth have not only thought about, but are positively acting upon in Victoria’s community. The Shelbourne Street Church Youth Group meets weekly to become positively and actively involved in the needs of Victoria.

Matthew Hickman, one of the youth group leaders says, “If we can get youth involved early in their teen years we can show and teach them how to be an active, positive influence in our world.” Shelbourne Street Church Associate Minister, Daniel Patstone isn’t boastful, modestly explaining that in terms of your run-of-the-mill youth group, theirs is similar to any other you’ll find in Victoria. The difference he notices is the passion that these kids have “in terms of walking out a life that reflects what Jesus is teaching them about”.

Prior to Christmas the youth group held a babysitting night for families in the community, to fundraise for a clothing swap with Our Place in the city. It was free of charge save for a bag of clothes, socks, mittens, or underwear. “Desperate parents love to take advantage of free babysitting. A lot of people are in their late 20’s to early 30’s at our church so it becomes a great way to fundraise,” says Daniel.

Upon expressing a desire to provide outreach for the greater community, the Church got in touch with Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program Coordinator, Julia-Anne, who became the driving force behind connecting the youth with Our Place.

From here the Church group was put in contact with Our Place Society and whilst touring the facility saw that donating clothing would be the best way to contribute to the society.

“These kids have a real desire to keep searching after what it means to live as Jesus lived, to love God and their neighbor in action and not just in words,” Daniel expresses passionately. “That’s what led them to start thinking outside the four walls of our church and contact Volunteer Victoria and ask: what and where are the needs in our city? How can we get involved?”

The Youth Volunteer Connections Program, run by Volunteer Victoria, liaised between the two parties, ensuring that the connection was benefitting everybody, especially the needs of the community. That’s when the youth came up with the idea for a babysitting night. The night began with the youth and their leaders trickling in, all holding a bright smile. Following closely were the parents and young children, full of excitement and boundless energy.

There was warmth exuding through the room, a tight knit community surrounding me and never did I feel like a complete stranger, but a warmly welcomed guest. As a mini soccer game kicks off between the walls of the downstairs youth area, a buzz fills the room and clothes pile in, a successful night already and it’s only just begun.

Mr. Hickman says, “It’s about giving the youth a chance to show the church that they are a contributing group within our church community… Our focus is on building a strong group who are actively involved in our city’s community through positive action, which makes them unique.” The dynamics are instantly apparent and the focus booms loudly that these youth want to make a difference by assisting their community, not tomorrow but right now.” What Mr Patstone highlights is the need to involve youth as early as possible, “The earlier you learn to live a certain way or do something a certain way, the easier it is to make that your every-day way of life,” he says.

Following up on the clothes swap, I’m told how much the youth really enjoyed it. They piled in to a van with tons of bags of clothing and took them down town. Daniel exclaims, “We had so many bags, the guy at Our Place receiving them, looked a little overwhelmed, which is a good thing!” He added that the youth got a lot out of the experience because they love being part of something bigger, beyond the church community. Assuring me that this year the youth will create a positive impact on the city’s community, Daniel says, “This isn’t just a one-time thing. We want to do more with Volunteer Victoria and the city this year.”

As the New Year rolls in we all begin our resolutions toward health, wealth, and happiness. Perhaps we could take something from this ambitious youth group and join their resolution to make a positive difference by walking the talk and taking action, because the Youth Volunteer Connections program is only one phone call away!

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