Can you believe it’s March already? That means it’s time for the second installment of our new monthly series, the YVC Spotlight!
This month we are traveling north to Calgary, Alberta, where we will meet Andrew and Julie, two outstanding Youth Volunteers from YVC of Calgary. YVC of Calgary has been a huge part of the YVC family for over 20 years!
Currently, they are the largest YVC in North America with over 1,000 Youth Volunteers volunteering over 40,000 hours in the last year alone! Way to go, Calgary! That is phenomenal!
Both Andrew Min and Julie Moysiuk have been volunteering with YVC of Calgary since the summer of 2013 and already they are making a difference in their community!
Tell us about your favorite YVC project:
Julie Moysiuk: What a tough question! There are so many meaningful projects with YVC Calgary where I can connect to the community and interact with various kinds of people. I’d have to say that my favorite project was the Salvation Army Camp that I volunteered at this past summer. Projects where I can work with kids are such a rewarding experience because they can learn from me, and I can learn from them. I enjoy working with children because I can motivate them to become engaged in their own community. In turn, they teach me how to be patient, adaptable, and caring. I really enjoyed my volunteering experience at that summer camp, and I hope to return this year.
Andrew Min: For me personally, my favorite YVC project deals with anything that contributes to the Salvation Army in Calgary. The Salvation Army is a charitable, non-profit organization that seeks to help low-income, immigrant, and homeless families. In pursuing their mission of helping these families, the Salvation Army has several events that provide meaningful opportunities and experiences for YVC volunteers. These events include serving a meal, day camps for children, and other activities that help these families. In attending these YVC projects, not only do I have fun, but it is an emotional experience for me. To have an opportunity to make a difference for these families and helping them is an honorable experience, and I feel emotional in helping these families become integrated and stronger members of society.
What is your favorite icebreaker and why?
JM: My favorite icebreaker is Heads Up because it provides a lively and interactive activity to introduce youth to each other. At projects where this icebreaker has been played, everyone ends up laughing and feeling comfortable with the other volunteers. This activity is also great because everyone is included, and people are inclined to open up in the amusing environment.
AM: My favorite icebreaker is probably when we get together as a volunteer group to play some kind of activity such as playing the app Heads Up on an electronic device or other fun games. Going around the group and stating everyone’s name and aspects of their personality can be fun, but playing different games and activities can really lighten the mood and atmosphere of the group and everyone could get along better, particularly for volunteers who have never met each other.
Why do you volunteer?
JM: I volunteer because it enables me to contribute positively to my city. Witnessing the smile on an elder’s face, the gratefulness of a homeless man receiving lunch, or the appreciative glance of the craft coordinator at a festival is what makes my choice to volunteer worthwhile. By volunteering, I can support causes that go far beyond my individual actions. Through this contribution, I have been exposed to pertinent issues and needs in my community which inspires me to make a difference. Volunteering gives me a place to belong in society where I can bring about tangible benefits to those who need a helping hand, and that is the greatest reward of all.
AM: In answering this question, some may answer stating that volunteerism is good for recognition such as in university or job applications. However, my reason for volunteering is as simple as being a compassionate role-model and a contributor in making a positive difference to all those surrounding me and in my community. What makes me happy the most is when I receive the opportunity to help others, even without a reward or merit at the end. I volunteer because I want to ensure that my community and all members are positively affected by my contributions.
How has YVC influenced your life?
JM: YVC of Calgary has influenced my life by showing me the “big picture” of the world. I’ve been able to enhance essential life skills such as teamwork, communication and problem solving. Becoming aware of societal needs and seeing how I can address them as part of the youth demographic empowers me. Volunteering has also shaped my life by teaching me how to interact with others through the youth volunteers and my YVC steering committee. Learning to meet new people in both relaxed and professional environments has given me the experience and confidence to embrace my future. Overall, YVC has impacted my life positively, exposing me to the ways of the world in a context that provides the opportunity to better myself and my community.
AM: Not only has the Youth Volunteer Corps program given me so many different experiences and opportunities in many different aspects of volunteerism, but it has taught me to become a kind and generous person to others surrounding me and in my community. In every single YVC project, there’s always something to gain and learn, and in each project, I continue to develop a strong perspective to always commit myself to the global community and make an effort to create a better society for everyone in the world today.