Volunteering: It's Not Just About Me?
As a teen I did volunteer work to fill out my resume, to fulfil scholarship requirements, and mainly because my mom said so. I never disliked doing whatever it was, be it helping seniors paint their nails at the senior’s home, babysitting for families that couldn’t afford childcare, or spending time at the needle exchange. I always met interesting people and got to find out about their stories, but I still thought of it as “me helping them.”
It wasn’t until I was older and not volunteering that I realized I missed it. I missed being able to make a difference, I missed the chance to give back to my community, and most of all I missed making those connections. I finally realized it wasn’t just “me helping them,” but a two-way street where I got as much out of it as the people or organizations that I was volunteering for.
I started to look around my community to see where I could help. As soon as I found READ Saskatoon it resonated with me. It wasn’t just the joy of reading a novel that I wanted to help bring to others: the more I thought about it, the more I realized literacy was a huge part of my life, and how we navigate the world every day. Realizing there are people in my community who don’t have that advantage was something I wanted to help with.
Since being a volunteer with READ Saskatoon I have met some amazing people. One of the best parts, as anyone who has taught anything can attest to, are those “ah-ha” moments, where you get to witness someone putting together the pieces and see their understanding. But the reason I keep coming back week after week is the connections that are made – getting to know learners, their stories, their interests, their reasons for wanting to improve their literacy.
The joy of seeing learners understand how the things we are learning together can help them reach their goals and enjoy their interests more is the reason I volunteer.