April 24th, 2020
#BetterTogetherWR includes our volunteers – THANK YOU! #NVW2020
April 19 to 25 marks National Volunteer Week. Throughout the week, we’ve been saying #CheersToVolunteers and highlighting the contributions of volunteers at Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region
#BetterTogetherWR includes those who have volunteered their time at EAFWR. Whether it’s been helping out at a fundraising or community event like Block Party or Neighbours Day, lending a helping hand at the Kitchener-Waterloo Library of Things or championing an inclusive community on our Board of Directors, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you.
To mark National Volunteer Week 2020, we’re pleased to share the story of Joe, a graduate student at University of Waterloo. Joe moved from Winnipeg to Kitchener-Waterloo in 2018 and first learned about EAFWR while looking for ways to become involved in the community. Read more about Joe’s journey with EAFWR:
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.
After a year and a half of being involved with EAFWR, I can say that I am very glad I went out to that first Block Party and that I certainly achieved my goals of meeting great new people and getting to know the community.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Joe and for your enthusiasm and dedication! And thank you to all the volunteers out there. You inspire us.