“I learned many skills through volunteering, it helps me in networking and keeps my brain active. For me, it’s been nothing but beneficial. I recommend it!
I started using hard drugs in my twenties, then I went to university to earn a degree in community studies. Because of my drug use, after graduating I ended up living in the streets for several years. I would always utilize any resources out there, like food banks, shelters, and day centres. So, I became familiar with United Way from that perspective.
At one place, I made a real connection with someone who was working there. She was so loving and caring and never judgemental. It became a place of solace. I just wanted to go in there and talk.
But I was also helping out all the time, with after-school programs and food preparation for instance. It’s a family thing. My mother volunteered and so did her sister. I’ve done it so many times, I can’t remember all of them. It makes me feel good, that’s the number one reason why I do it—just the joy I feel from the people that I interact with, that I’ve done something to make them feel better. When I was in university, I worked with a restorative justice program for young offenders. Four or five of these kids wrote me thank you letters for helping them. I’m genuinely proud of that.