As a teenager, volunteering was a big part of my life. At the age of thirteen, I was intrigued by my local Boys and Girls Club’s Youth Council. I had already attended the after-school program at the Boys and Girls Club of Dawson (where my mother was a tutor) as well as two summers in their summer day camp, so I was already very familiar with the club on a whole.
My best friend and I were so excited to join the Youth Council together, especially because there was a National Youth Conference that year. The conferences were the highlight of my time on the Youth Council: they occurred once every two years in May, and for a week, we would travel to another city in Canada to meet other youth, learn valuable leadership and interpersonal skills, listen in on keynote speakers and participate in cultural events. We also got the opportunity to network, see a new province and gain so much experience.
These conferences weren’t free, so our team often fundraised a portion of the money. My most memorable fundraisers were a Bowl-A-Thon and a car wash, which were quite successful and loads of fun. Throughout my teenage years, I was not only elected President of the Youth Council but was also fortunate enough to participate in four conferences in Toronto, Kamloops, Winnipeg and Ottawa. On one of the off years, my team decided to take a trip to Boston, which was just as fun.
Not only did the Youth Council have to fundraise, but we were also expected to maintain a positive and model image in the community. We volunteered a lot (I mean, a LOT) of our time at events such as dances, blood drives, open houses and presentations. As an International Baccalaureate student in high school for some time, I needed a certain amount of volunteer hours per year, and I always surpassed my hours, sometimes with only one or two events at the community centre.
Being on the Youth Council and a member at the Boys and Girls Club didn’t just entail volunteer work and a conference. I was given the opportunity to job shadow on Parliament Hill in 2013, where I got to follow Members of Parliament in their day to day lives (I watched then-MP Justin Trudeau up close in Question Period and I had lunch with MP Mylène Freeman, which was so cool). I was also featured on Breakfast Television Montreal in 2013, where I delivered the weather report as part of Rogers Youth Education Day. As a member of Rogers Raising the Grade, I was also featured in the Boys and Girls Club magazine, with a whole page dedicated to my headshot.
When I was no longer considered a youth – and believe me, I stretched it – I had not only dedicated six years to the Youth Council, but I had participated in human rights projects and a girls group, as well as accumulated almost $6,000 in scholarships from the Boys and Girls Club of Canada and their partners. All this work just set the foundation for what I continued to do in my life. Upon entering university, I had a much heavier course load than I had encountered in both high school and CEGEP. Still, I dedicated my time to my sorority, where I not only both fundraised and volunteered for our philanthropy events, but currently serve on the Leadership Team. I am also the President of my school’s Her Campus chapter, and I spent last summer volunteering at Concordia Stingers games and promoting their events.
None of my volunteering ever felt like “work”. Sometimes the days were long, but they were always so worth it. My parents have always been big believers in giving back, so I guess it was just natural for me!I can never thank my volunteer experiences enough, because I feel like they helped shape the person I am today. It led me to want to give back more when I can and it presented me with unimaginable opportunities that have been some of the best experiences of my life.