A while ago I mentioned that I wanted to become engaged and volunteer in my community. After a lot of hard seeking, I realized that I was looking too hard and not focusing on my immediate community. Much like donating money to Women for Women, Kiva, or Save the Children (all of which I do), I was focusing my energies outside of my home, without really seeing what the need is right in front of me.
Please note, before I continue, that I love my participation with all of these organizations. I endorse them (and am not paid to do so), and have really been happy to be involved in such worthy projects.
That said, I think it’s important to help out in your own backyard too, which was my goal when I talked about my volunteering locally goal. I looked at various organizations and just felt daunted by working my way into them and trying to sell the idea of building something from the ground up.
And then I realized I have things that I am very passionate about within my own work environment that I would like to see nurtured and grown into bigger projects. These projects, if further developed, would help support and nurture students in my own community, while being built on the network I have at my disposal and taking some extra tlc on my part to get off the ground.
Funny isn’t it that I look to others to build things that I can build in my own backyard?
So right now I’m working on nurturing 2 work projects that will extend beyond my job:
- Student Ambassadors who go out and talk about what it is like to have a disability: their challenges, their accomplishments, and their ambitions, in order to show that having a disability doesn’t mean that you are unable to accomplish great things in your life.
- Support for Adult Immigrant Students in order to help their transition both emotionally and academically into my local community (school and city). One of the things I hear so often from my immigrant students is that they feel isolated in Canada. Yes, we are a multicultural nation, but in moving here, my adult students go through so much as they attempt to integrate and rebuild their lives in Canada. So we’re going to create a mentoring program that works after school, pairing Canadian students with recent(er) immigrant students to help ease the isolation, confusion, and language barriers that come up in the process.
So those are my current community building/volunteer projects, taking place right in my backyard! (or work yard… whatever, you know what I mean)!
What about you? What kind of things are you building in your own communities, volunteer based or otherwise?