Larissa wanted to volunteer for an organization that allowed her to volunteer along with her six-year-old son. Her research for a family volunteering opportunity brought her to Volunteer MBC’s Mississauga office. This is the place where Larissa learned about different opportunities that existed for families looking to volunteer. Soon after, Volunteer MBC’s referral program matched her with a family volunteering opportunity at the Peel Literacy Program.
A school-based drop-in program for parents, grandparents, and caregivers with children from birth to age six, each centre of the Peel Literacy Program was staffed by an Early Childhood Education (ECE) certified Parent Worker, and offered a variety of fun learning activities. The beautifully structured program for parents and kids was held once a week and included various tasks to provide kids with vivid skills, completely mesmerizing Larissa and her son.
The volunteer opportunity at the Peel Literacy Program was just the start of Larissa’s long term relationship with volunteering. As soon as she finished her term at the literacy program, Larissa approached the Volunteer MBC Mississauga office again, this time looking for daytime opportunities for volunteering, at different places and for different causes.
“My experience of volunteering kept increasing with the help of the referral team at Volunteer MBC, I learnt so much about volunteering and how it helps, both as an individual as well as a family. I will never forget the story of Carine, VMBC’s Executive Director and the reason why she started volunteering, that stemmed right from her father’s story of giving back to the community”, Larissa said. She went on to add that Carine’s volunteer story who drew strength from her volunteering to beat cancer twice, became her inspiration and now, whenever she is talking to people she gives Carine’s example to motivate more in her community to volunteer.
However, for Larissa, the true value of volunteering came when she was going through one of the most traumatic phases of her life. She lost her father, mother and brother, all in a span of three years. It was at this point that volunteering helped her to overcome the gloomiest years of her life. She says, “I realized the strength of our bond as a family during this time. I realized that this bond was the result of the compassion and kindness, which we had developed for each other during the times when we volunteered together as a family”. The time when Larissa volunteered with her family not only helped the community, but at the same time helped them to build a family that was sensitive, cohesive and cared more for each other. Volunteering as a family has helped Larissa and family to face trauma together.
Today, Larissa feels that the opportunity that she got at the Peel Literacy Program through Volunteer MBC’s referral system has helped a long way in helping her son to cultivate positive values like empathy, sensitivity and a commitment to service. For families like Larissa’s that have growing kids, family volunteering has been instrumental in creating a sense of cohesion and well-being within the family.
There are many like Larissa who have benefited by helping their community. Our community needs us just like the way we need our communities, the countless stories that tell us the importance of volunteering and family volunteering goes on to tell us the strength of the bond that develops when we start giving back via the power of service.
Written by Faisal Ikram, Coordinator, Marketing and Communications, Volunteer MBC