Recently, Propellus (Volunteer Connector) asked our volunteers to explain why they volunteer. Read their wonderful stories below.
“What I want most when volunteering, is to help those who have experienced the worst of
humanity by offering some of the beauty of what humanity can share: love, compassion, &acceptance. CCIS matched me with a refugee family (a mother & her 3 young children) that had been captured by ISIS for two & a half years. The father was either killed or taken by ISIS. The volunteer position started out with spending time at their home, helping with English, reading, playing, bringing them donations of things that they needed. I was surprised & honoured by how quickly we developed trust & connection. I help them navigate various systems, including travel, school, medical appointments, large grocery trips, day trips, & government forms. When my partner & I take the kids for the day we bond over arts & crafts, books, outdoor play, & field trips.
They have chosen to live with 4 of their close family members, & it's beautiful to see how they support each other. The phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child" really does express their family life, & it's truly a privilege for me to witness. In this part of the world, we tend to think of ourselves as the best & the most advanced. We can think of "refugees" or " immigrants" in very stereotypical ways. We are mostly unaware of the richness of their lives & the beauty in their cultures & relationships. I love these people & feel fulfilled in getting to know them more intimately & in being able to help make their transition to a totally new life a bit smoother. To me, this has become so much more than a year-long volunteer commitment. They feel more & more like extended family.”
“We help newcomers adjust to Canadian living through their first year. But my experience has been that it’s never just a year; you develop a great, close relationship – my family and their family. You get to see the progression as they get used to the new culture, and get a job, find a car, find a home. It’s amazing to see the change in them, to see them become Canadians, to go to their citizenship ceremonies.
We have families that have children my daughter’s age, so she develops relationships and friendships as well. Most volunteering I see out there is not family-oriented, so you have to take time, get a babysitter and so on. This is great because I can do it with my daughter, as a family. We establish a relationship. Often they meet my parents, my sister, my brother - and they become family friends. One of the families is from Syria, and they’ve started teaching my daughter Arabic. I don’t know that you’d get that exchange in very many places.
Life does get crazy and busy and I try to focus on where I get the value. This is one experience where I feel like we get value because we’re working one-on-one with the actual individuals, and it’s not about money, and it’s not about administration. It’s not an extension of our jobs. It’s about the connection.”
Thank you to all of our volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer with immigrant and refugee families, please contact Marcella Ducasses at email@example.com