By Sophie O’Reilly –
As a student, getting volunteer experience is not only important to the development of character and helpful in learning about the world, but it is actually essential in order to graduate in Ontario. Volunteering can be a boost to university applications as well.
There are a wide range of volunteer experiences for students, many of which can be found on the Volunteer Ottawa website: volunteerottawa.ca.
Although obtaining the necessary 40 volunteer hours on top of everything else that students have to focus on can be daunting at first, it is easy to get involved in one’s school and community. Places that students can volunteer include: the Parkdale Food Centre in Hintonburg, Big Brothers and Sisters, local community centres like Dovercourt Recreation Association in Westboro, animal shelters, and other non-profit organizations.
Nina Andrascik, a grade 12 student at Nepean High School, has volunteered multiple times over the years at Habitat for Humanity, an organization which helps families build houses and promotes affordable homeownership. Like many volunteer opportunities, you get out of it only as much as you put in.
“Recently I organized a youth build by reaching out to my different networks and gathered peers to all go contribute to building a home out in Orleans,” says Nina. “It usually involves going to the construction site of a home and getting hands-on with hammers, nails, and a lot of lifting.”
Gaining experience through volunteerism as a high school student is very important, says Nina. She says that it is critical to give back to your community, learn new things, and gain new experience as well as an appreciation for others.
“Through this experience, I grew to appreciate organizations like Habitat for Humanity and all the homes they have built,” says Nina.
Claire Stewart, a grade 12 student at Nepean High School, volunteered with the Nepean Sailing Club as an instructor-in-training last summer.
“Overall, it was an amazing experience that allowed me to spend time with people who are passionate about the same things that I am,” says Claire, who got firsthand experience caring for kids. “It also gave me a better appreciation for how much my words and actions matter since kids are always watching and repeating what they hear or see.”
Many unique experiences can be gained from volunteering. “Whether it’s running a fundraiser for charity, helping out at your community’s food shelter, or coaching the local kids’ soccer team, I believe that volunteering is something everyone should do,” says Claire. “It allows you to give back, gain new experiences, and build meaningful relationships.”
Sophie O’Reilly is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.