June 8th, 2020
After taking a couple of months to get settled in as a newly arrived graduate student at the University of Waterloo from Winnipeg, I started looking for ways to get involved in the community. Being new to the area and having few connections in the community, I figured volunteering would be a great opportunity to meet new people and get to know the city.
Researching volunteer opportunities, through the Volunteer Action Centre, I found an opportunity as an event volunteer for Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) at their Block Party fundraiser in 2018. This seemed like a great opportunity to do a small part in supporting an organization which seemed to be doing important work in the community. At Block Party, volunteering as a floater (helping wherever I could), I immediately felt very welcomed and got an introduction to the great work that EAFWR does around the community.
At the event, I got talking to some of the staff and they highlighted the need for more male direct support people. Having had some experience supporting people with disabilities through different facets such as Special Olympics, I figured this could be another great way to become involved in the community. After going through the hiring process, I was able to commit to a match which fit my schedule with two brothers 13 and 15. I spent the last year and a bit supporting them by taking them out in the community once a week to do variety of activities, including some of their favourites such as laser tag and virtual reality. This has given lots of opportunities to get to know KW by doing activities and going to events I may not have gone to otherwise, all the while making a strong connection in the community with my matches and their family.
Although I’m now involved as a DSP, I also try to continue to volunteer for the events which EAFWR holds. I’ve volunteered for the Ball Hockey Tournament and for Block Party a second time, both events being a lot of fun. Through these events as well as some great volunteer and DSP appreciation evenings, I’ve also gotten to know the wonderful staff at EAFWR who organize everything.