On Getting Involved in the Wider Community
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”. ~Author Unknown
What do you get when you volunteer?
You will receive both as a person as well as a job seeker:
- You’ll make a difference in other people’s life, on the environment, on other species, on the community you live, or even on communities far away:
“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him”. ~Albert Schweitzer
- You will meet lots of interesting, caring people who may become long-life friends
- You will discover projects and organizations you didn’t know existed
- You will learn and get to practice new skills
- You will get Canadian experience, references and connections, all important when you are job searching or if you want to open your own business
- You will improve your English and will learn Canadian workplace culture
- The recruiting process is very similar to the hiring process, so you will be much better prepared for job search interviews and selection
Here are some places where you can start:
- Canadian Red Cross
- Sources Community Resource Centres
- A Rocha (for environment or farm/gardening related)
- Living Streets at B.E.S.T. (ask for Surrey’s program):
- City of Surrey (various opportunities)
- Go Volunteer
- Crisis line (Surrey)
- Crisis line (Vancouver)
- Fraser Health
- Food Bank
- Have a passion for plants and sustainability, or have a profession related to agriculture, horticulture, soil science?: volunteer at the UBC Farm: http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/teaching-learning/volunteer-program/
- Architectural background: http://www.architecturefoundationbc.ca/volunteering/
- More volunteering opportunities in BC: http://volunteer.ca/volunteer-centres/province/BC
- Other opportunities can be found at specific professional associations, please check your own professional association for more details.
- Other volunteering ideas to get Canadian experience and references: church or temple, school, recreational centre, your children school PAC, Strata Council, seniors centre, library or local community garden, etc.
When looking for volunteering opportunities, remember:
- Volunteering should be fun, but requires effort and commitment
- Make sure you understand the rules, the commitment expected from you and the policies of the organization about volunteers’ behavior, benefits, etc.
- Only volunteer for non-profit causes. For profit companies or business shouldn’t aks you to “volunteer”, that is called exploitation, unless you have an agreement and enjoy what you are doing and accept the consequences of not being paid when somebody else is making a profit with your efforts
- Do not accept jobs (volunteer or otherwise) where you have not been properly oriented and trained, or where they expect you to do things you consider dangerous or against your values.
- Volunteer to acquire skills, experience or make connections. Volunteer to make a difference and learn. Volunteer to improve your community and the lives of others, including non-humans. Volunteer to be the best you can be.
“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer”. ~Author Unknown