There is no doubt that volunteering brings with it a wealth of rewards – not just to the one on the receiving end, but also to those who generously give of their time and talents.
“I am currently tutoring an individual in math as they are working to upgrade through to college,” said Jaden Norman, who has been volunteering at the Stettler Learning Centre since last fall. It’s a perfect fit as Norman is headed to the University of Calgary this year to begin her studies in engineering.
“I love math – it’s my favourite subject in school and I’ve always been good at it. Really, it’s such a rewarding experience to help someone with something that I’m so passionate about, and to see them grow and also to see them learn to love math,” she explained.
“It’s been a good experience, and also in just building that relationship with them, too, through the tutoring. It’s helped me get to know my community even better.”
Norman, who attends Wm E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus, added that the Centre is always on the lookout for volunteer tutors – especially in math.
And her mom, Laura Norman, who works at the Centre, was also instrumental in bringing her daughter onboard to tutor as well.
“So I was glad I could help her out with that, but then it quickly grew into something I was quite passionate about.
“It’s just so rewarding to help someone else – it’s incredible. It’s also knowing that you are not only helping that one person, but the whole community as well. I hope that I can continue to do it in the future.”
Jaden also noted that there is plenty of support at the Centre for anyone who would like to volunteer.
Learning materials are plentiful for volunteers and students to explore. “There are also webinars, resources and help available for us to help our learners – especially for the ESL learners as well.”
National Volunteer Week runs April 18th to 24th. This year’s theme is ‘The Value of One, the Power of Many’.
Erin Wilkie, manager of the Stettler Learning Centre, said that Jaden has been a fantastic volunteer.
“She’s very eager and very much attentive to detail. She’s got her schooling, she works part-time and she’s doing this on the side – she is just a real-go-getter. And I think she is really inspiring to the students that she works with,” she said.
“It’s a natural instinct in her to know how to built rapport.”
Wilkie pointed out how great it is to see youth in general step into volunteer roles.
“I think it helps with a sense of belonging. It also gives them some insight into the amount of effort that it takes to make things work – that ‘behind the scenes’ part of things,” she added. “It provides a sense of purpose – plus you can put it on your resume. People love to see volunteer work on a resume!”
In the broader picture, Wilkie emphasized how essential volunteers are to virtually any given organization.
“I don’t think the Stettler Learning Centre would exist if it weren’t for our volunteers,” she explained, referring to both the Centre’s tutors and board members.
“Also, many things in our community simply woudn’t exist if it weren’t for volunteers. From non-profits to sports clubs, it’s pretty much all volunteers. It’s so all-encompassing. We just wouldn’t have so many of the services, opportunities and organizations if it wasn’t for volunteers.”
For those who volunteer, it can literally be a game-changer in terms of outward influence but only on a personal level, too.
“When you look back on it, you can be proud that you made a positive difference,” she said. “I just have so much gratitude for them.”
In the meantime, Jaden’s mom Laura, who is the Centre’s volunteer coordinator for the tutors, is certainly proud of her dedicated daughter.
“I am very proud of her – I knew in my heart that it was about the experience and work, but I also knew that she would get much more out of it.”
Laura said that Jaden has also become more keenly aware about the needs in the community. “I am just super proud of her.”
As mentioned before, there is no question volunteers are at the backbone of countless organizations.
“We could never do what we do as a Centre without them. It’s really absolutely necessary that we have volunteers who are committed to helping learners and to helping others in the community,” she explained.
“They also come with a wealth of knowledge and experience – they are generous with their time and pretty motivated to help other people.”
And volunteers are the typically the first to point out that they receive so much in return. “Pretty much across the board, they would agree that it’s an extremely rewarding experience.”
For those hesitant to give it a shot, Laura has an encouraging word.
“If they would just go out and give it a try, they would realize, ‘Yes, I do have a lot to offer’. It doesn’t always mean offering academics, but also by just being a listener and offering conversation. A lot of the learning (particularly for English learners) comes through conversation, and anyone can do that!
“You can also go in thinking that you will be teaching only math and English, but you often end up teaching much more than that – things that are practical for their lives, too. Volunteers and students also often find common interests, so then a friendship develops, as well. It’s an amazing experience for both.”