I’m Anuradha Narine (Cindy) currently a second year student at Humber College - The Business School, completing a two year Business Management program. With the successful completion of high school I am now an Alumni of Volunteer MBC's Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassador (SUYVA) program and I continue to volunteer with SUYVA as an Advisory Panel Member as a mentor to its Executive Committee.
On July 31st, 2012, I moved from South America to Canada, which I’ve since considered that day to be the day I got a second chance to be able to make a difference in my lifetime. Before I moved to Canada, the idea of going out and volunteering was a thought that had never really crossed my mind. About one month after I moved to Canada I started high school, where I was immediately advised by my guidance counselor that I needed 40 hours of community service in order to graduate from high school. Being in a new country, a new environment, I had to admit that I was feeling a bit lost and confused. But one day after not receiving any updates or suggestions from my counselor about volunteer opportunities, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was checking online for volunteer opportunities around my community, when I came across Volunteer MBC’s website. I spent hours reading through their website, looking at all the spotlight stories, the variety of places that they had connections too, and it was an instant connection for me, there was this feeling I had, that being involved with Volunteer MBC, I would one day be able to look back and realize that I had a “second chance” to make a difference.
Since, I’m a person that believes in face-to-face conversations, I decided to do a walk in and meet the staff of Volunteer MBC to further understand how they would be able to help me find the best suited volunteer opportunities. During the walk-in referral interview I had the opportunity to meet some individuals that I would say impacted the decision I made to continue to be a part of Volunteer MBC. Their kind words of motivation made me realize that there is more to life than just being at school all day and at home at the end of the day. After my walk-in session, I received an email with a wide variety of volunteer places that fit my criteria, but the one that got my attention specifically was the Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassador (SUYVA) program. This choice was one of the most difficult choices I’ve made so far. The reason is, I was a very shy person who was easily overwhelmed about the thought of even talking in front of a small group of friends. But I decided that this was an opportunity to be able to build on confidence, team work and individuality. I then decided to consult with Volunteer MBC as to how this program would fit my personality, where I was assured that it would build on all the areas that I believed was important to me; team work, leadership, event planning, public speaking, etc. In September 2013 I joined SUYVA as a Step Up Ambassador for its 2013/14 term which was also my final high school year.
During this one year SUYVA term, I encountered many rich experiences that would have never been possible had I not become an Ambassador. Of all the events SUYVA put together, one of the events that I was solely in charge of was the “Informative Presentation” at Louise Arbour Secondary School. The event was an informative presentation, which was presented to Grade 9 students about Volunteer MBC’s commitment to connecting youth with their local community. The presentation was done over four sessions of 15 minutes each. While this may sound like a simple event to organize, this event has made a huge impact in my life. I gained self-confidence, and I now look at every situation differently where it triggers the psychological part of my brain that now allows me to always try something new before giving up.
It’s difficult for me to picture what my life would be like today had I not become a Step Up Ambassador or even connected with Volunteer MBC. SUYVA has allowed me to interact with some of the most inspirational youth I’ve ever met. I’ve taken their experiences, stories and even advice to help build a better me, they’ve impacted my life in a way that I though was never possible, as they demonstrate strength, selfless dedication to make changes happen and leadership that is significantly impressive for their age. I learn everyday about another Ambassador and the changes they have made, and their selfless acts towards strangers, despite their age. They have been and continue to be an inspiration to me, where it forces me to become a better individual, and to also work harder, never give up, and always dream big. Without the opportunity to connect to Volunteer MBC and The Step Up Ambassador I would not have been open to the opportunities and experiences I have encountered since because I now have the confidence to face any challenge that comes along.
Now, during my post-secondary years, as a member of its Advisory Panel I continue to volunteer with SUYVA as a mentor offering my experience and advice to support the current Executive Committee.
Written by: Anuradha Narine