Every high school student has to volunteer to complete their required 40 community service hours, but Philip Manzano has turned it into a life-long passion and continues to volunteer within his community. Philip may have started his volunteering journey to fulfill his requirement for graduation but admits that once he started, he could not stop.
Philip’s first volunteering opportunity was at a long-term care facility where his dad worked. While volunteering there, one of his key roles was to manage the gift-shop. He was responsible for opening and closing procedures, managing inventory and selling merchandise to the residents that would stop by.
For Philip, this was a life changing experience. “I was able to develop a few different skills that I didn't have at the time. I never held a job before that, but this experience gave me an opportunity to see what a retail job could look like. There were a lot of great transferable skills that I was able to start practicing: namely, the interpersonal skills needed to talk to customers and the required organizational skills to be successful in the workplace”, said Philip.
Being an introvert, volunteering helped Philip to overcome his biggest fear and establish many new friendships in the process. “This was at a time where I was very shy and did not often talk to others.” Philip said. “I kept to myself. But this opportunity forced me to talk to others, and I was able to learn so much.”
While volunteering, Philip soon realized the impact that he made on the other residents by brightening up their day and being there to simply listen to them. This had a deeper impact on Philip as well, “You become an advocate for a cause because you choose to be there, sacrificing time doing other things. You also learn a lot. On a personal level, you change when you volunteer. You influence. You lead. It's a very positive thing.”
Philip still continues to volunteer to this day. “I literally have no free time between work, side projects, and personal life, but I still seek new opportunities to volunteer as no one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the value of the community”.
Philip has some great advice for other people that are looking to volunteer, “Take an honest look at your interests and find a volunteer opportunity that aligns with those interests. Connect with your Volunteer Centre, they have tons of resources available to match you to the perfect volunteer experience. While anyone can volunteer for just about everything, it has a greater impact on you and the people you are helping when it is something you care about and enjoy doing.”
Philip believes that volunteering is the key to becoming more humane and enhancing all aspects of his life. He says, “Volunteering might be a basic requirement for youth to graduate, but it can become something so much bigger, not only for yourself, but for those you help along the way.”
Written by Andrew Dmytrasz, Volunteer Writer