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My Volunteer Story - Ola
Volunteering helped me remember who I am.

Ola is a past volunteer with Volunteer MBC and recipient of the V-Oscars 2019 Helping Hands Award for Brampton. Her volunteer story compiled here is parsed from her remarks at Volunteer MBC's 2019 AGM and additional insights she shared with us.



My name is Olamide Alimi. I am a graduate of Public Administration. I am a mother and enjoy writing as well as taking part in community work. As a newcomer to Canada, I was eager to learn about the Canadian work culture and meet and mingle with people. I was fortunate to get the chance to volunteer in this capacity through the Region of Peel Human Services.

My coming to Canada was full of uncertainty and doubt. After a few months in the country, fate brought me to Volunteer MBC. And I must confess, my experience here was like therapy for me. It helped me rediscover myself.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect on the onset of volunteering. However, as I progressed, my experience became more interesting and inspiring. I could see the difference that was being made by rendering my services while also learning new things in the process. I got to meet and speak with people from different cultures and background. I have never worked closely with people with disabilities. I learnt to respect their boundaries while also making them feel safe and comfortable. I could feel that they gained my trust which made communication easy. 

Having worked as a Volunteer Engagement Assistant for approximately 7 months with Volunteer MBC, I found it humanely heartwarming  meeting with numerous walk-in and online clients. A volunteer engagement assistant’s role is matchmaking aspiring volunteers to suitable volunteer positions based on the information available on their profile.  

These prospective volunteers ranged from between the ages of below 13 to over 65 years. We mostly had people who volunteered as individuals, but also had quite a number, who volunteered as a family unit, as elderly couples or even groups. Among them were also those who needed to volunteer as a result of involvement with the local courts.

We fulfilled the goals of secondary school students who needed 40 hours of volunteer community service in order to graduate. We also made the dreams of some interns come true by fixing them up with positions, so long as they met their institution’s requirement.

People volunteered for different reasons: to give back to their community, to gain work experience, and that was especially so for newcomers to Canada, to meet more people and expand their network, or simply because they were in between jobs and wanted to spend their free time doing something meaningful.

In my experience as a Volunteer Engagement Assistant, I especially loved the enthusiasm with which people with disabilities were eager to get involved. I can safely say that matching volunteers with unique needs to suitable positions, when relatively few opportunities had openly addressed accessibility was always the most challenging part of the job, because most organizations were not always readily receptive to such individuals. Happily, in the end, this turned out to be the most fulfilling part of the job.

As a newcomer, this opportunity has greatly helped in shaping my knowledge of the Canadian work experience and, more than anything else, I feel internally fulfilled lending a ‘helping hand’. I was able to profile over 700 clients during the period I volunteered. I can only imagine how many more thousands of people have been encouraged and given the chance to volunteer since the establishment of the organization only 11 years ago.

My experience at Volunteer MBC was awesome, very fulfilling, and unforgettable. It was characterized by a loving and respectful environment driven by an amazing team which made my task a lot easier. Receiving the Helping Hands Award for Brampton at the 2019 V-Oscars was a huge honour. That I was nominated alone was exhilarating. Winning was an encouragement to do more. I couldn't have achieved it without the help and encouragement of the amazing team I worked with. They made it easy and were always willing and ready to assist.

I believe the biggest benefit of volunteering is giving back. There is an awe-inspiring feeling that comes with rendering services, helping and contributing to the progress and development of any individual or group. I must emphasize however, that the Volunteer also gains indirectly from the experience in one way or another. From my experience learning and mastering the skills of motivating and encouraging volunteerism to people of all ages and classes was a huge benefit.

I would always encourage volunteerism. It provides a healthy boost to one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. For the simple fact that you are giving back and going good to others and the community, you will experience a natural sense of accomplishment and identity. Working with others also provides benefits to your psychological wellbeing. Not to mention that fact that in the process you gain and master new skills. 

There is no gainsay in the fact that volunteering has indeed changed my life. I had some emotional issues I was dealing with. I had been away from any work environment for a couple of years due to circumstances beyond my control. This was a period that was very crucial for me, as my children needed my undivided attention. It also weighed quite heavily on me as an individual. I eventually realized that volunteering was therapeutic. It helped me counteract the effects of stress and anxiety. It helped me remember who I am, increased my confidence and helped me redirect my thought into positive ones while giving me hope for a new beginning. 

 

Olamide Alimi
Olamide Alimi is a past Volunteer Engagement Assistant with Volunteer MBC.