According to the 2013 General Social Survey (GSS), 59% of Canadians aged 15 years and older, have volunteered for a charitable or non-profit organization or group at some point in their lives – and we have seen first-hand what an incredible impact this kind of contribution can have on the community.
Newcomers to Canada are quick to realize that volunteering is an integral part of Canadian culture – and a really great way to learn more about that culture, too. For the recent immigrants who volunteer at NYCH, the role is a great opportunity to gain Canadian experience, expand their network, and learn to work with diverse groups.
NYCH volunteers are also placed on a mailing list where they receive community news and job postings, which is particularly helpful for new Canadians who are looking to connect with their neighbours or hoping to enter the Canadian labour market.
Newcomer volunteers can even meet with staff members who will assist them with resume writing and interview techniques, and provide references for job applications. This can be a major confidence boost to newcomers looking for work – and we have seen many volunteers eventually getting hired based on their skills, knowledge, and the experience they gained from volunteering.
On the other side of the coin, we have seen volunteers who were born in Canada or have lived here for some time, offering their support to newcomers and helping them in their settlement and integration into the community. This has been especially evident in our Mentorship Program. “At North York Community House, we provide mentorship because it is a stepping stone to help newcomers reach their goals.” says Gulcin, NYCH’s Mentorship Program Worker.
Volunteer mentors assist newcomers in their professional and social development in a variety of ways, such as providing tips and resources, helping to improve English language skills and expand professional networks, sharing insights into Canadian workplace culture, and quite simply, being there to answer questions when things get complicated.
A recent Mentorship Program Participant described his experience, saying, “I am glad that I got to meet a good mentor like Alex. He is very supportive and helpful, and he answered a lot of my questions, which will definitely help me in my job search. This meeting was very fruitful for me.”
This guidance, in both group and one-on-one mentoring sessions, plays an important part in a newcomer’s journey towards becoming part of the community, finding meaningful employment and building the confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve their goals.
We are grateful for all of the volunteers who generously give back to the community – and happy that all of this hard work and dedication can make a difference in the lives of so many new Canadians.
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