At the 2018 Volunteer Fair held at UPEI, representatives from 25 non-profit organizations were on hand to explain what they do and how volunteers can benefit their community. Many also pointed out how volunteering helps people learn more about their community and can build skills that could lead to paid work.
Autism Society of PEI
A volunteer-led Board of Directors fills the roles of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Directors at Large.
“We have just two paid staff, so we look for volunteers in key areas such as website development, social media, marketing, and photography,” says Nathalie Walsh. “Those skills could make a huge change in our organization. We also need help with events.
“The skills learned through volunteering include multi-tasking, independence, meeting deadlines, efficiency, dealing with a vulnerable sector, working with families, and developing empathy and special connections.
“Volunteerism is a big part of my background. As a student, I volunteered with the Katimavik program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and a variety of other youth programs. When I graduated from university, I was very aware of the changes a volunteer can make in the community. I wanted my career to be based in that industry, and that is how I ended up in not-for-profit.
“These days, there is more value placed on travel, multiculturalism, and diversity. If you can gain those experiences through volunteering, you will stand out among other candidates.
“Volunteering gives you an opportunity to be hands-on and helps you find out what you are good at. When we recently hired within the organization, the successful applicant’s volunteer work showed some of the skill sets that they could bring to the organization.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of PEI
As well as being a Big Brother or a Big Sister, volunteers are needed to deliver Go Girls, a program where they visit schools to speak with groups of girls about issues such as body image, physical activity, and diet. There are also in-school mentorship opportunities.
“Being a Big Brother is rewarding – it’s all about friendship, guidance, and mentorship,” says James Howatt. “I am looking for a job as a youth worker, so I think volunteering with this organization will help. Employers will see volunteers with this organization have experience working with youth, which is an advantage.”
Haley Mackenzie delivers the Go Girls program. “As I learn more about the girls I speak with and how they feel about themselves, I can better encourage and motivate them. Volunteering gave me an opportunity to teach – I have never done that, so it was a good skill to learn.”
Haley is studying nutrition and biology at UPEI. “Part of the Go Girls program is about diet, so as I discuss healthy eating with the girls, that ties in very well with my studies.”
Canadian Blood Services
In the clinic, volunteers serve donors a drink and cookies and make sure they feel ok before they carry on with their day. In the community, volunteers let people know about the need for blood donation, as well as signing people up to donate and answering simple questions. There is also a need for ABO blood typers to determine people’s blood types.
“A UPEI Blood Club is in the works,” says Krysta Hanakowski. “Club members will organize and encourage people to donate blood at the clinic on Fitzroy Street. We will send a bus to pick up a group of people to come and donate.
“Volunteering sometimes results in employment. This year, our summer student positions were hired from the current volunteer roster. Another person started working at the clinic after volunteering and going on to training.
“When you come on board as a volunteer, you get an extensive two-hour training session where you learn about the different blood products and the different opportunities to help. After that, you shadow a shift, and then you volunteer on your own.
“Volunteering is a meaningful way to make a difference in your community while gaining new skills and meeting new people.”
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
CNIB offers programs and services for people who are blind or partially sighted. “We need volunteers to help with our monthly social, movie nights, yoga, tandem biking, snow shoeing, and first aid training,” says Rachel Kitson. “We also look for volunteers to help with administrative work in our office, and for help with technology, such as helping clients set up emails or how to use an iPhone.
“We also need help with our VisionMate program, where volunteers are matched with clients with shared preferences a few hours a week, based on needs of clients, such as organizing outfits, reading mail, going for a walk, playing a game of cards, or just having a cup of tea.
“We have a very small staff here on PEI with little turnover. One of our longest-running paid staff members on PEI was first a volunteer with CNIB. She created her own position with the organization. She was the only person in the office for a long time, so she was a natural choice for the paid position.
“Volunteers learn organizational skills, people skills, office administration, and technology skills – these are all good attributes to add to a resumé.”
This organization helps youth 18 and over find a volunteer experience in Canada or abroad in a two to three-week project.
In the Intercultural Cooperative Workcamp, volunteers from Canada and from abroad join together to work in communities in Canada for 30 hours a week. Accommodation, transportation and food is paid. “The experience helps people gain people skills, manual labour experience, communication, and group decision making abilities,” says Francois Paquin.
“Listing this volunteer experience on a resumé shows engagement and gives you more confidence and a new perspective about different cultures, makes you more open minded, and makes you stand out from other people who may not have volunteer experience.”
Cystic Fibrosis Canada
Volunteers are needed for long-term leadership roles and short-term help with events. “Most events are in the summer, and include fundraising walks, runs, and other events,” says Ray Carmichael. “Volunteers are needed for setting up and tear-down, registration, sitting on a committee, and helping out with events such as selling tickets for our raffle draw.”
For more information, email [email protected].
East Prince Youth Development Centre (EPYDC)
98 Water Street, Summerside, PEI
– 902-436-2815 – EPYDC has provided life and employability support for over 20 years to our youth. They provide FREE services in:
- resumè and cover letter development
- case management & career planning
- applications for post-secondary studies, SkillsPEI funding, Career Connect, and youth employability programs
- preparing for job interviews
- life and employability workshops
- updated job board, computer/internet access area, and a job referral service
Volunteers are needed for events throughout the year to help organize special events.
“I have spoken to many employers over the years who tell me that they view volunteer work just as importantly as they do paid employment,” says David Trainor. “Volunteers do it because they want to, not because they are paid to do it. It shows interest and initiative. It also allows individuals to acquire skills that they may not have had the opportunity to obtain otherwise.”
East Prince Youth Development Centre Inc. is funded in whole or in part by the Canada-PEI labour market agreements.
Habitat for Humanity
“Habitat offers lots of opportunity for volunteerism,” says Sophia Ball. “No matter what type of experience you are looking for, we probably can help you get it. The opportunities are flexible and can fit into any schedule. The sales skills and relationship/donor cultivation skills you learn are transferrable to a wide variety of markets.
“People can volunteer in the ReStore, which sells donated home décor, furniture, appliances, and building supplies. The ReStore is our most important fund-raising source. At the ReStore, you can get practical hands-on experience in retail, merchandising, cashier, and customer service. Those skills are highly transferrable to a number of different jobs, especially since so many jobs are customer oriented in some manner.
“People can also volunteer in the office and gain administrative experience, which is great for anyone considering that career. Or they can volunteer on a building site, where they can learn useful construction skills. Being on a fundraising committee helps build your own personal network while engaging with the community, which is so important when job hunting.
“A number of times, a volunteer at the ReStore or in the office has been hired for a paid position. If you are engaged with the organization and they already know your work ethic, it gives you a leg up with any sort of job opening.”
Junior Achievement of PEI
JA inspires and prepares youth to succeed by providing educational programming focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness skills to students in grades 3 to 12. In the 2017/2018 school year, JA PEI delivered over 270 programs to classrooms across the Island with the help of their dedicated volunteers.
JA is currently recruiting volunteers to help deliver JA programs to grade 3, 4, 5 and 8 students. They are also looking for volunteers to mentor for their 18-week after-school Company Program once a week, to help high school aged students navigate the process of starting and running their own businesses. The program requires two to four volunteer mentors for every after-school company.
Hillary Koughan started volunteering with JA as a UPEI student. “When I graduated from UPEI, I was hired to work for JA full-time to coordinate the programs for grades 3, 4, 5 and 8 across PEI.
Hillary feels her volunteer experience with JA definitely gave her an advantage when applying for the job with JA. “I was familiar with the people involved in the organization and the programs offered. It made for an easy transition from volunteering to working for the organization.
“I would definitely encourage people to get out there and volunteer. It might not translate into working with that organization, but you learn valuable skills that could be transferred to other positions.”
Kids Code Jeunesse
This program works with Kindergarten to grade 12 teachers, and helps school children up to grade 6 learn how to code. Volunteers help with setting up events, fundraising, translation, social media campaigns, publishing in WordPress, mentoring students and teachers, reviewing coding projects, or testing volunteer training material.
“We show kids the basics of coding and computational thinking and we teach educators how they can use that in the classroom, regardless of the subject they are teaching,” says Jennifer Whittaker. “Coding is not just for science kids – anyone can learn how to code.
“In the community, we also set up free, volunteer-run after-school or after-work coding clubs that are free for kids. A curriculum is already laid out, so that volunteers don’t have to have a coding background – they can learn along with the kids.
“For retired people, parents, students, or anyone with a background in education, computer sciences, or sciences who wants experience working with kids or teaching, volunteering with this program is a really good way to get that experience.
“There are seven or eight coding clubs across PEI, so we need a lot of volunteers to work weekends and after school hours.”
“I’m not a coder – my background is in agriculture and growing food,” says Jennifer. “This job required someone who had experience working with kids and building community in a not-for profit organization.
“When I volunteered with a different non-profit organization, I learned skills such as working with kids, recruiting volunteers, scheduling, implementing a budget, planning activities for kids, and working with grownups. Even though it was a different subject, the skills required for this program are the same. It is still working in the community and with kids, getting them to feel inspired, and helping them find out what they love.”
For more information, email [email protected].
Learning Disabilities Association of PEI
“We are looking for someone who can help with social media, and that job could be done remotely, so they would not have to come to the office,” says Martin Dutton.
“We are also looking for someone, perhaps with a business degree, to develop a sustainable fundraising project. The last position is for a “Chaos unraveller” who would sort out schedules for students, tutors, and parents and enjoys using an Excel program and connecting with people. We are open to more ideas for volunteer projects.
“Every employer I meet who is hiring wants to get a deeper insight into who they are hiring. Volunteerism tells us that the person can do more than a paid job. Their education and skills and previous job experience is listed on the resumé, but volunteerism shows what you have given back to the community.”
Let's Talk Science
Volunteers connect educators and youth to deliver a wide variety of meaningful science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning experiences in school and community settings.
Laura Young did her undergrad in Biology at UPEI and has always loved research and science. “The idea of working with kids and doing hands-on learning with them is a cool opportunity that I really wanted to be part of,” says Laura.
“Being part of this organization has taught me about working with others in a group, communicating, explaining science concepts to young children, organizing, and planning. It is an opportunity to build confidence skills while making presentations.
“I like working with kids, so it is probably something I will always do. I hope to go into medicine, and this program is a stepping stone in my career path.”
PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada
PEIANC is looking for volunteers to offer friendship, tutoring, and social activities with Newcomers.
“Our volunteer tutoring program for newcomers to PEI helps them improve their English language skills,” says Lisa Chaisson. “Volunteers take an online tutor training program or in-person training, and then commit to two hours of tutoring per week. If they prefer, they can lead conversation circles with a group of newcomers to help them practice English skills.
“Volunteers are also essential to helping us with three DiverCity festivals held across PEI, with planning and organizing other events, with childcare while mothers are at meetings, plus many other opportunities.
“Both volunteers and people from our interpreter programs have gone on to be hired for staff positions with PEIANC. Volunteering before applying for a job gives the employer insight into how inclusive and caring you are with different cultures, languages, and people.”
PEI Humane Society
www.peihumanesociety.com – “We are always looking for part-time workers who can come in on an on-call basis,” says Emma Turner.
Volunteer caretakers can choose to care for dogs, cats, or small animals such as rabbits. For dogs, this includes walking, and even a read and relax program for dogs who need a calming experience. For cats, volunteers can offer enrichment, playing with them, cleaning cages, and feeding. The time commitment is flexible.
“We have had volunteers who started with us and were hired on part-time. People who volunteer with the Humane Society have an advantage when it comes to applying for a paid job. Most people don’t realize how much work is involved in being a shelter attendant, so when you volunteer you can see how busy it is.”
Prince County Hospital
“We have about 250 scheduled volunteers,” says DeAnna Heckbert, Volunteer Coordinator. “One of the biggest areas is in Ambulatory Care. Volunteers greet people at the front desk, and give direction and support. In the clinic areas, they escort patients from the waiting room to the examining room, clear the room for the next patient, and guide them through the system.
“Volunteers do all those extra things that offer support and comfort to patients and families. We even have a team of volunteers from the Summerside Garden Club. Their work really benefits those who use the hospital garden.”
Volunteers must provide references and pass a criminal record check. After the interview process, they are given orientation and training.
“If you are considering a career in healthcare, volunteering is a great way to find out what it is like to work in the field,” says Krista Parsons, Administrative Assistant. “Many people have volunteered with PCH and ended up starting a new career in healthcare.”
Prince Edward Home / Beach Grove Home
“There are 16 different roles for volunteers,” says Donna Sheehan. “They can assist residents with pushing a wheel chair, helping with recreational programs, hair dressing, going for walks or sitting with someone outside, going on appointments with residents when family is not available, or playing games, They can help residents with dining, or share a talent like singing or music.
“Many nursing students volunteer with the Helping hands program, assisting LPNs with their duties.
“Volunteering in long-term care is such a rewarding experience for the resident and the volunteer – it will change their life. It can help someone decide whether they want to go into nursing or another role like administration. Often they use their volunteer bursary hours to go towards the requirements of a particular program and come back as an RCW or an LPN or an RN.
“Volunteering definitely gives people an edge when applying for work,” says Jeff Cook. “It shows that someone has taken the time to give back to the community, and it shows character. It is also a good way to get a reference. Any kind of experience looks good on a resumé – it does not have to be paid experience.”
Rotaract Club of UPEI
Rotaract Club of UPEI – is a community service-based organization where UPEI students volunteer, give back to the community, and raise money for projects. Rotaract is the youth wing of Rotary Club, and is geared to people ages 18 to 29.
“The club started last year at UPEI, and we have raised money for Lennon House Mental health recovery house, helped with Camp Gencheff, and participated in other activities in the community,” says Keyshawn Bonamy. “It’s a great way especially for international students to get to know the local community.
“When employers see volunteering on a resumé, it shows them that this is someone with a go-getter attitude who wants to make a difference. It also shows that you are willing to work hard at a job you are not being paid for. Volunteering with a group like Rotaract also means you are committed and involved in the community.”
“A student in our club who is from China is using her social media skills to help the club,” says Michael Morrison. “She will be able to put that experience on her resumé, and a future employer will be able to see she has used her skills in Canada, which may well help increase her chances of employment.”
Start with a Seedling
Start with a Seedling is a garden and food literacy program connecting community volunteers with kindergarten age children on a monthly basis through the school year.
The strength of this program comes from the diverse backgrounds of volunteers who bring their experience and knowledge to foster an inclusive and enriching environment. Activities include garden visits, cooking and creating art with buddies. Volunteers should commit to volunteering on a monthly basis between October and June 2018/19 for one Thursday per month. No gardening experience required. Criminal record check mandatory.
Through a project called Rising Youth funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps initiative, they offer grants to fund youth-led community based projects.
“We empower young people ages 15 to 30 to act on some of the issues in their community,” says Sarah Gallant. “They can get up to $1,500 to do any type of project that contributes to the community, such as an arts project, sports and recreation, environment, or education.”
Sarah offers mentorship and support as they do their project. “I also help youth connect with volunteer opportunities after their projects are finished so they can continue to work in the community.
“Skills learned through volunteering with us include putting on events, applying for grants, engaging and educating people in the community, identifying issues and barriers in the community, and helping people problem solve.”
For more information, email [email protected].
Cutline: Sarah Gallant, Youth Engagement Activator.
UPEI Bahá’í Society
“The programs offered through the Training Institute build our capacity for community service, with the idea that our own personal growth is linked to the growth of our communities,” says Jasmine Michel.
“One of our main opportunities for volunteering is with the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment program, which is often run by older youth who act as a mentor and a friend to junior youth 11 to 14.
“The skills you will develop include listening, forming sincere friendships, organizational and motivational skills, nurturing, and community education.”
For more information, email [email protected].
UPEI English Language Centre
The Centre offers customized English language programs for international students.
“Our volunteers often go with the students to activities as conversation partners to help them practice their English and answer any questions they may have,” says Amy Palmer.
“Through working with people from many different cultures, you develop intercultural skills and communication skills.”
UPEI Student Union
The UPEI Student Union provides services for students on campus and offers students many ways to volunteer.
“If you are interested in writing, students can volunteer with the CADRE,” says Emma Drake. “They are always looking for volunteers for articles and writers with different perspectives.
“We also have a street team which helps with events, and activities. Our advocacy team is holding a campaign to encourage students to vote in the municipal election. We are also always looking for volunteers for other one-off events.
“It is a nice way students can get involved and meet people they may not otherwise meet who come from different faculties or places across Canada or around the world.”
For more about volunteer opportunities with the non-profit sector, visit www.employmentjourney.com/industries/non-profit-sector/.