The following article was written by Korinne, a Pathways to Education graduate from Shawinigan, Quebec. Pathways and JSF are proud to join Korinne in celebrating National Volunteer Week and the countless volunteers who donate their time and expertise to help young people achieve success.
It’s National Volunteer Week in Canada right now, and this annual celebration has inspired me to reflect on the important role volunteers have played in my life.
I will always remember Joanie, a volunteer who truly made a difference in my academic journey.
She was a volunteer tutor at Pathways to Education, and she spent many long hours helping me with my math homework.
I struggled a lot with math in high school, so her support made a big difference. I would often get quite discouraged and had a hard time motivating myself. But Joanie never gave up on me. She was infinitely patient and her contagious energy made it seem like math wasn’t the worst after all.
It was after many long and demanding tutoring sessions that I realized how much Joanie had invested — not just in me, but in many other teenagers — and how important that time was to me.
Joanie helped me realize just how much I could accomplish. And that if I was able to overcome my struggles, everyone else could as well.
So, when I graduated from high school, I became a volunteer to help others, like Joanie helped me. It was a way to say ‘thank you’ to Joanie and to the other volunteers who supported not just me, but my entire community.
I strongly believe that volunteering at organizations like Pathways to Education is incredibly important for community growth. Some young people have trouble finding a caring and supportive framework during high school. It makes a big difference to have access to volunteers in safe environments that help you feel welcomed, supported in your studies and comfortable sharing how you’re doing.
Because of this, I think it’s important for cities to invest more in community involvement and to create additional opportunities for people to take part. I also think we can do a better job of making volunteering accessible and appealing to a younger crowd.
Donating their time can be a really powerful way for young people to enjoy the community they live in, and I encourage communities to invest in more meaningful volunteer opportunities that reflect youth interests, such as sports events, food festivals, and local shows.
The easier it is for young people to see themselves represented in volunteer opportunities, the more likely they’ll be to participate — creating a strong culture of volunteerism from a young age, and benefitting communities for generations to come.
Looking back today, it’s easy for me to see that volunteering has always been a huge part of my life. Whether it took the form of supportive tutors like Joanie or my own volunteering roles, volunteering has made me who I am, and I will always be always be grateful for that.