When attending university, we become more and more aware of the issues our communities face, and often times it is up to university students to become the catalyst for change. However, with an overwhelming amount of ways to volunteer and advocate for community issues, where can university students start their passion for volunteer work and advocacy? Enter Because We Care – UofT. A recently established club, Because We Care is a club which focuses on connecting students with organizations that work to help solve the issues which our communities face, from homelessness, disability, mental health, and much more. They work tirelessly to give UofT students opportunities throughout the year to give back to their community, and we’re excited to bring such an awesome club to the Her Campus spotlight. Read on to find out more about their initiatives and how to get involved!
Year established: 2016
College/Faculty affiliations: N/A
Answers provided by: Ally Potamianos, 4th year, St. Michaels College, Faculty of Arts and Science, Geography Major, and
Nasra Mahad, 4th year, Woodsworth College, Faculty of Arts and Science, Equity
Follow them at:
Instagram – bwec_uoft
Facebook – Because We Care – UofT
Tell me a bit about Because We Care in a few sentences or less
Our mission is to provide members at the University of Toronto opportunities to engage in volunteering activities and become involved in addressing various issues relevant to our community. We will assist non-profit organizations by giving them access to volunteer workers that will aid them in actualizing their events, fundraising efforts and servicing their members.
What made you interested in becoming a part of this club?
Ally: I was interested in becoming part of Because We Care because I had done a lot of volunteer work while in high school and wanted to continue doing it in university. I also liked that it was a relatively new club, which allowed me to learn a lot about the process of creating a club and all of the hard work that goes into it.
Nasra: Before I started university, I took a few years off to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. So I volunteered and spent most of my time helping others. When I began my first year I didn’t see that opportunity. So when I heard about BWeC and what they wanted to do I was eager to join!
What role do advocacy and volunteer work play within university life? What are some benefits to volunteer work while studying in school?
Ally: I think that volunteer work and advocacy can help connect your studies to the “real world”. I also think that it can help you see what is going on beyond the university and in the wider community. For me, it was an opportunity to collaborate with and learn from community leaders and other students on issues that interested us.
Nasra: I think that at Uoft we are so academically inclined we rarely get opportunities to help our community beyond our college. I feel like this exposure allows us students to see the world beyond our own. For me, it is an opportunity to become more compassionate, empathic and understanding. I truly believe that getting students out and having to interact with people from all walks of life outside of a classroom can help them when they move on to bigger and better things in the future.
What are some of Because We Care’s greatest achievements since becoming established?
Ally: I think one of our greatest achievements was our Blessing Bag event, which we hosted last January. We were able to bring together a variety of groups both on and off campus and UofT volunteers to create bags filled with necessities for those on the street. Together we were able to create and distribute 100 bags and donated an additional 50 to a local shelter.
Nasra: I agree! The blessing bag event was an absolute knock out. Many of the students came out to help not only pack but distribute these bags that carried the basic essentials. It was amazing to see what a collective can do!
Do you ever work with other student advocacy and volunteering organizations within UofT?
Ally: Yes, we have worked with Take Action on our Blessing Bags event, which we will be hosting again this year in January.
Do you feel that student unions and academic faculties are doing a good job at helping solve community issues within Toronto and Canada? What do you think could be improved?
Nasra: Apart from being co-president, I am the DiversiTea coordinator at Woodsworth college, I feel like because of the students’ concern to bring awareness and make changes the faculty and student unions are doing their best to accommodate. I feel with a few more changes, in finances and spaces provided for the students the conditions we are trying to change would play out faster and more efficient.
Ally: Maybe student unions for various programs could do some sort of community outreach. This could also help students apply what they are learning to real world issues.
What are some of the most prevalent issues facing our communities? What can we do to help?
Nasra: Stigmas. I feel like media has gotten such a hold on people that whatever they watch without any background knowledge they immediately think is true. And innocent people get blamed and put into harm’s way because a bigot assumed they had a certain power over them. I feel like the best way to break these stigmas and to help is to openly talk about these problems. Creating a platform for conversation. Not allowing groups to post or hold hateful events, and having those in charge penalized rather than giving them a slap on the wrist.
Ally: I agree with Nasra — especially about the power of the mainstream media.
What are you most excited about this academic year involving Because We Care?
Ally: I am most excited about working with Fix the 6ix, a group that we worked with last year and who have been so supportive of our growing community!
How can one get involved with Because We Care?
You can get involved with Because We Care by emailing us at [email protected]. We will put you on our mailing list and you will receive updates on volunteer opportunities in the area and our own events every few weeks. You can also follow us on our social media platforms where we are constantly posting about upcoming opportunities.
Favourite course you’ve taken?
Ally: Definitely GGR327: Geography and Gender!
Nasra : NEW348H: Mad studies!
Edited by Sophia Savva