After graduating from the post-graduate Public Relations program from Mohawk College in 2011, I dived right into a career in the for-profit sector. When I left Mohawk, I thought this business life was for me – I had my heart set on working in an agency and never thought about the not-for-profit sector. Little did I know, I was ignoring what I had always been truly passionate about.
Last year, the business publication I worked for shut its doors. This was my chance to plan out what I truly wanted to get out of my career and the job I would spend five days a week at. I knew I wanted to work for an organization where I could see my work making an impact in someone’s life and the community. Luckily for me, I was offered a job as community engagement coordinator at Volunteer Hamilton. Volunteer Hamilton is a local not-for-profit organization that engages the community in finding meaningful opportunities and assisting community members to create social change ideas of their own. Volunteer Hamilton helps other not-for-profit organizations in Hamilton recruit, retain and manage their many volunteers.
As a student or alumni of Mohawk College, we often go out into the community while in school or after graduation to give back to our community. In fact, as Canadians we are naturally inclined to give back in this very organized manner and 56% of Hamiltonians volunteer – which is above the national average.
Now that spring has now sprung, I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight a couple healthy community organizations where Mohawk alumni volunteers might be interested in helping out.
1) Hamilton Victory Gardens. The Hamilton Victory Gardens is a local organization with eight community garden beds throughout the city. Around this time of year, they begin to plant their seeds for the spring and summer seasons. They grow fresh produce and donate fruits and vegetables to local food banks. In 2013, they were able to harvest over 30,000 pounds of food. This year, they should reach their goal of harvesting 50,000 pounds of food for local food banks.
2) Escarpment clean-up project. The Escarpment Clean-up project was started by one individual in September 2012. Today, it has grown into the largest volunteer environmental clean-up in Hamilton. Volunteers meet on one day in the spring at various locations along the escarpment to pick-up litter and help return it to its natural splendor. This year’s clean-up was on Sunday, April 27th. I had the great pleasure in taking part in the clean-up with a few high school students requiring volunteer hours. We each filled a garbage bag while hiking along the Red Hill Valley Trail. We even found a rusted bike! Next year’s clean-up will be on the last Sunday in April.
So whether you have a little or a lot – give your time back to an organization this summer. Not only will you make a difference in someone else’s life but you’ll also gain more than you give.