Celebrating National Volunteer Week

April 28, 2022
Author: Eric Zimmer

There are many ways to get involved at VIU

Volunteering is about giving your time, skills and energy to an organization or cause that you care about. It’s about engaging in the community and giving back. It can also be a good opportunity to learn new skills and ideas, meet new people and try different kinds of work.

This week, VIU is recognizing and celebrating National Volunteer Week – Canada’s largest annual celebration of volunteers – and highlighting some organizations, opportunities and people who have given their time, energy and skills to volunteer in a variety of ways right here on campus, joining the almost 1.5 million volunteers across BC who dedicate more than 114 million collective hours to help others.

We asked our community members to recognize volunteers in their areas. Here’s what we received: 

St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog Program 

Therapy dogs

The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program reaches out to thousands of people across Canada on a daily basis bringing comfort, joy and companionship to members of the community, including students and employees at VIU. Every week, volunteers set up in the Wellness Lounge in the library on VIU’s Nanaimo campus.

“They gave so many hours this year to VIU, and they touched a lot of students,” says VIU Mental Health Strategist Sara LaMarre, adding that the dogs “brought peace, calm and love to many members of our community and we are so grateful. Thank you.”

Wellness Peers 

Wellness Peers

Wellness Peers are students interested in promoting health and wellness at VIU. The Wellness Peers run the Wellness Lounge in the Nanaimo campus library, and they work to create a welcoming space where any student can stop by to relax, connect, grab a resource or pet a therapy dog. Wellness Peers have also been trained as peer listeners who can support students with all things related to health, wellness and student life. 

“Thank you to the VIU Wellness Peers for all their time and energy over the last year,” says Sara. “You are an amazing team of student volunteers who care deeply about others and who have helped support many students.”

Wellness Peers this year included:

  • Aleeah Fletcher
  • Rebecca (Bay) Kinrade
  • Brandi Andreeff
  • Brandon Hardisty
  • Chamal Ramanayake
  • Dylan Arumputin
  • Emory Woods
  • Hannah Perry
  • Kennedy Ordano
  • Kristen Farley
  • Madison Agrey
  • Nicole Hansen
  • Rochelle Perrott
  • Rosa McGreal
  • Shabnam Nazarali
  • Srishti Singh (Savi)
  • Tara-Faye Sedar
  • Theresa Hoelke
  • Zoey Cole

Are you passionate about promoting wellness and mental health? Apply to be a Wellness Peer for the 2022-23 academic year by visiting the Wellness Peers website.

Volunteer Tutors Program

Several students gave their time to the Volunteer Tutor Program this year. These people meet one on one with one or more students each week, giving generously of their time to help students reach their learning goals in a class that they are struggling with. 

Volunteers this year included:

  • Dan Mattison
  • Yeva Mattson
  • Melanie Page
  • Brenden Gray
  • Jessica Dagasso
  • Isabella Ranallo
  • Kassandra Robicheau
  • Kristianna Barton
  • Lydia Batke
  • Nicole Congdon
  • Alan Park

Interested in becoming a volunteer tutor yourself? Email volunteertutorcoordinator@viu.ca for more information.

Other volunteer opportunities at VIU 

There are many ways to get involved on campus! In the Faculty of International Education, you can volunteer for WorldVIU Days in November or the Peer Helper Program. Other opportunities include volunteering with Fun@VIUPeer Supported Learning, the VIU Students’ Union or the Office of Future Students. You can also explore the postings on the CareerVIU website.

Volunteering Tips 

Finding the right volunteer opportunity is like finding a job. It requires research and time but there are many benefits. Here are a few suggestions and questions to consider when looking for volunteer opportunities:

How much time do you have to give? Some organizations require a commitment of a certain number of hours per week, or dedication to volunteer for a year (especially if there is training involved). Short-term options include local seasonal events, festivals and fundraisers.

What area is convenient for you to get to? Which organizations are in that area? Depending on how many hours you are volunteering for, it might be important for the organization to be near your home, the university or on a bus route.

What are the kinds of skills or experiences that you could contribute to the organization’s needs?  For example, if an organization is looking for volunteers to help with customer service, consider if you have strong communication skills that could help you succeed in this kind of role.

What are you interested in? Or what is your passion? These are perhaps the most important, and sometimes most difficult questions because only you can answer them.

Still not sure? 

There are also organizations in the community which specifically work to connect volunteers with organizations. Check out Volunteer Nanaimo’s listings. It’s also recommended to track your volunteer involvement so it is easier to add to your resume and portfolio. It may be helpful in some academic programs to maintain a log to demonstrate your community engagement.

Happy volunteering!

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