Burlington, May 10, 2001 - They are three young women, bright, outgoing and enthusiastic with a lot more than that in common. All three women have a desire to help other people and were chosen as Coordinators for the Youth Volunteering Works in Halton program, piloted by the Halton Social Planning Council and Volunteer Centre. The program, funded by Human Resources Development Canada, supports these women in their work with local agencies to create and support opportunities for youth volunteerism. It is also an International Year of Volunteers initiative.
Ann Coburn, Manager of the Program explains, It's a new initiative, and one that we are very excited about! This pilot is for a one year period, and each Coordinator works with two or three agencies for whom they must recruit at least nine youth volunteers while developing a comprehensive youth program!"
A university graduate with a major in psychology, Andrea Neilson didn't know what she wanted to do. But she did know that she wanted to help people and felt that the Youth Volunteering Works in Halton would be a great way to do that! "I heard about the program from a friend and then saw it advertised in the local paper and on the net," says Andrea. "I thought it would be a great opportunity and I was right!"
Andrea works with the Halton Hills Recreation and Parks Department interviewing their summer staff and handling all related training. In the fall she will focus on developing a comprehensive youth volunteer manual which will include policies, procedures, orientation and evaluation methods. Andrea also works with the Halton Hills Community Support and Information Centre in Acton. Here, her role is to recruit and develop a youth committee to assist with the expansion of the existing drop-in centre. Faced with multiple demands, she finds that her greatest challenge is finding the time to accomplish everything that she wants to get done!
A heavy workload is a sentiment shared by Darlene Shaw who is working with three organizations: Youth Aiding Youth, Ireland House and Joseph Brant Museums and the Burlington Community Foundation. "There is so much that can be done, so many opportunities," says Darlene. "The workload truly is overwhelming but that's also part of what makes it so exciting!"
Previously employed for five years as a Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator, Darlene spends a lot of her time on recruitment. The Burlington Community Foundation is utilizing her services to establish a youth committee while Youth Aiding Youth, needs her expertise to support their existing program that partners younger children with older ones. "We currently have 55 children on a list waiting to be paired up," says Darlene. Next week she will interview over 30 people with the hopes of being able to provide relief for some of the children wishing for a teen mentor. The challenge with the Burlington Museums is different. Here, Darlene is busy revamping the entire program in order to make it youth friendly. This means not only changing materials, but changing people's attitudes and perceptions as well.
It's a positive attitude that helps keep Michelle MacKellar grounded as she works tirelessly for her three organizations: the Oakville Red Cross, Bronte Creek Provincial Park and the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department. Youth recruitment is her number one priority for all three organizations and the demand seems endless. The Red Cross needs assistance recruiting for their youth council, Bronte Park offers
a multitude of volunteer opportunities in their camps and parks programs and the city's recreation department is seeking volunteers to work one-on-one with people with special needs. The organizations are a good fit with Michelle who has background in recreation and leisure though the job has its challenges. "There is so much work to be done since most places don't have a person dedicated to youth volunteerism. The challenge is tremendous but I am really enjoying working with so many different people."
Based on the current success and associated community benefits, it is anticipated that Youth Volunteering Works in Halton will become a permanent program offered by the Halton Volunteer Centre. For further information please contact the Halton Social Planning Council and Volunteer Centre at 905-632-1975.
For further information, please contact:
Joey Edwardh, Executive Director
Community Development Halton