Happy National Volunteer Week! We are so thankful to the many dedicated volunteers who give time and talent across all areas of YSM – you make our work possible each year.
Not only are we blessed with individual volunteers, but YSM also has many partnerships with schools, churches and corporations which connect us with eager volunteers who are seeking to use their skills to help strengthen our city. One such partnership is with The Neighbourhood Group (TNG), formerly known as St. Stephen’s Community House.
Anthony has been working in the TNG Connection Program for about 8 years and feels personally connected to his role. “When I heard about the opportunity to work with newcomers it caught my interest. My parents were newcomers and seeing what they went through made me really want to give back to the community. It’s really rewarding, you get to hear stories from people from all over the world; some fleeing dangerous situations and others who just want to start a new life.”
After completing classroom or virtual training, TNG students are matched with a full-time co-op placement for 6 weeks. YSM has been working with TNG for more than 10 years providing placement students the experience they need to advance their careers in Canada. “We’ve formed this relationship,” said Anthony. “Everyone I send [to YSM] is happy and there’s a lot a great training provided. I really don’t have to worry about placing students there, they are a great team.”
Hamza came to Canada with a Masters in Management, ready to find employment but unsure what kind of position he wanted. The Connection Program at TNG was suggested and Hamza began the course hoping to find a new direction for his career.
After reading about YSM, Hamza applied for placement in our Donations Processing team. He experienced in-depth training on Raisers’ Edge and Blackbaud, software used by many charitable organizations to process donations. He learned about sorting, scanning and entering the kind donations from our many generous donors.
“The staff made everything look easy and encouraged us so that we’d soon figure it out,” said Hamza. “They didn’t micro-manage us and would give us time to figure things out. I met people from a lot of different backgrounds and learned about taking new opportunities in life, it was really amazing.”
“[My co-op placement] was my first employment experience in Canada and it’s really helped push me to where I am now.” Hamza is now working with the city of Toronto in the Shelter support and housing Administration. He uses many of the lessons he learned through TNG and YSM such as time management, typing, Canadian workplace culture and working in social services. “When I was applying for my current job I reached out to Jess [my placement supervisor at YSM] to be a reference and I believe I am here now because of that.”
When asked about their favourite moments at YSM, both Anthony and Hamza remarked on how they felt so welcomed by YSM staff.
“YSM staff are very friendly,” Anthony comments, “Speaking with anyone I feel they really care and that impressed me. One of my favourite memories was a couple of summers ago. I brought my son with me to sign a contract and at the time there was a program running for kids. The staff offered to let my son get involved with the other children while we did the paperwork. He had the best time – it was a great time for him. A lot of people tend to rush, but every staff member at YSM takes time to know you.”
Hamza shares, “At Christmas we would receive a lot of mail! And when someone would open a donation of, say, $5,000 we’d ring the gong in the mail room then sing and dance. And we’d be listening to music while we worked and they’d let me choose the music so I’d ask for the Home Alone soundtrack. But I loved the cheesecake Jenn, the Database and Operations Manager, would bring when someone was leaving their role. When I was about to leave she brought me a cheesecake and there was a gift from everyone. I still think of these memories, I loved it.”
Every day, we’re able to provide services to struggling neighbours thanks to those who join us and give of their time, talent and treasure. Volunteers, donors and partners are truly an extension of our team at YSM. Thank you for all you do to care for and support Torontonians experiencing poverty, together we can transform our city!
Learn how you can give your 6IX to “the Six” and make a difference in your community ysm.ca/GIVE6IX