Lend a Hand for National Volunteer Month | #TeachMeTuesday
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat’s the common link between coaching a local sports team, serving soup to those in need and assisting your favourite charity with a fundraiser? They’re all examples of volunteerism and ways to give back to the communities in which we live.
While volunteer work is important throughout the entire year, I’m bringing this to your attention now as we approach the month of April, which is National Volunteer Month. This month provides great motivation to get involved in the community if you haven’t done so already. And, if you are active already, it’s an opportunity to stretch yourself to continue giving your time.
Did you know that community service is now a requirement to graduate high school in Ontario? All secondary school students must complete 40 hours of community involvement to get their diploma. What a great way to instill the appreciation for volunteerism at a young age! Contributing to the community broadens life experiences, promotes community values, assists with career planning and may help with scholarship opportunities. Most importantly, it gives students skills for life that they will carry into adulthood.
One excellent local example of volunteers coming together is the Corsage Project. Their signature event, the Boutique Ball, takes place annually in the spring and coincides with the start of national volunteer month. The mission of the Corsage Project is to make a difference one dress at a time by helping economically disadvantaged high school students attend their prom by providing free formalwear. At this event, girls, matched with their very own personal shoppers, can shop for one complete outfit to their hearts’ content and take home everything—free of charge. This event could not be made possible without the dedication and hard work of the executive committee who volunteer their time year-round and the 300 volunteers who help to set-up the venue and volunteer at the boutique ball itself.
The outpouring of support is incredible. In additional to individual volunteers, many groups come together to lend a hand. Volunteer teams consist of students, employees and families. It presents a great bonding experience for a group to work towards a common goal, build team spirit and give back to an important cause. “In recent years, we have had a school team from Branksome Hall helping us on set-up day,” says Cindy Woodward, Branksome Hall alumna and Corsage Project Executive Member. “The girls help us to hang the dresses and organize the jewellery and shoe displays. It’s a special experience for the volunteers to have the chance to help a group of girls their own age. They relate to the desire to attend prom, and so it is an experience that is close to them.”
Even corporations get involved. RBC Royal Bank has been a faithful supporter of the Corsage Project Boutique Ball for approximately 10 years. In recognition of volunteer month, the company awards grants to a volunteer service project where employees give their time in the month of April. Many individuals even bring their children to take part. Moving into the final group, family members volunteering together is quite popular with many mother-daughter teams in attendance.
It’s inspiring to see students learning about volunteer work from a young age. Events like this one send a powerful message to our youth. I, for one, have volunteered every year with my own mother, without whom I wouldn’t have been engrained with the personal drive to give back.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves for a cause close to your heart? If you, your kids, friends or family are still looking for your volunteer match, be sure to check out Volunteer Canada for ideas on how to connect to a charitable or non-profit organization near you.
Joanne Sallay is a Director at Teachers on Call, a personalized home tutoring service with more than 25 years of experience. Teachers on Call’s Ontario Certified Teachers specialize in providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades including French Immersion tutoring.For further information about Teachers on Call, please visit: www.teachersoncall.ca Like Teachers on Call on Facebook Follow Teachers on Call on Twitter