My Volunteer Story: Jannies Le

A small act of kindness goes a long, long way, and it’s one of the reasons why Jannies Le, a non-profit professional, helps others by volunteering in her community. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at York University and teaching in South Korea for two years, Jannies reached out to Volunteer MBC to find a way to connect with youth in her community. 
 
In 2014, Jannies became the lead mentor of the Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassadors’ (SUYVA) Advisory Panel, and she continued to hold the position until recently. Composed of a group of high school students, SUYVA is a program that guides and encourages its student ambassadors to reach out to their peers at school to promote the benefits of volunteerism and engage them in giving back to their community. 
 
As the lead mentor of the advisory panel, Jannies supervised SUYVA’s monthly meetings by using her professional background in the non-profit sector to provide guidance, advice, and support to SUYVA’s student ambassadors. Jannies recently became the acting Executive Director at Anduhyaun Inc., a not-for-profit organization that strives to support and meet the needs of Indigenous women and their children fleeing violence and she has had to put her youth mentorship with Volunteer MBC on hold. However, she is still actively involved as a volunteer at United Way and Chairs their Young Leadership Committee.
 
To Jannies, volunteerism isn’t just a way to engage with her community, but it also is a way for her to express gratitude for the kindness she received as a child. “When I was young, my family didn’t have much. I remember the breakfast program at my school so well, particularly how much joy I felt when I got to have a toasted English muffin with butter. I want to give back to the community that helped me as I grew up.”  
 
Throughout her 4 years of involvement with Volunteer MBC, Jannies has worked hard to promote SUYVA in the Region of Peel by assisting in the development of several campaigns and projects.  One of these initiatives, ‘Crossing the Poverty Line’, is a poverty simulation that aims to change young people’s perspectives towards poverty.  Participants of this simulation project come together to learn about the financial and emotional difficulties of those living in poverty through role-playing and meaningful discussion.  Jannies has described the initiative as follows: “Those living in poverty are often treated differently, and the struggles they face can be neglected and overlooked by the community. Through this project, we hope to raise awareness about these problems amongst youth and encourage them to speak up about what they've learned.”                     
 
In addition to serving as a mentor to SUYVA, Jannies also chaired Volunteer MBC’s V-Oscars – Volunteer Awards Gala Event Committee. In spite of her busy schedule, Jannies continues to seek out opportunities to help out in her community.  She sums up her experience to date, “Through volunteering, I feel like I have gained more than I have given. Volunteering and engaging with all these amazing individuals have really built me into who I am today.” 
 
Bearing that in mind, Jannies offers that we all should take a step back and think about what really counts. As Lewis Carroll put it, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” 
 
Written By: Audrey Pao