On Nov. 3, Career Services at the University of Winnipeg (U of W), in partnership with Volunteer Manitoba, hosted nine exhibitors and many students at the Volunteer Fair. At this event, students had the opportunity to learn about volunteerism and connect with different organizations that are currently recruiting volunteers.
Volunteering is a great way for people to get involved in the community, build their resumes, gain meaningful experience and explore their passions and interests.
“Volunteerism is important for youth, because it allows them to grow up learning a sense of community and the importance of giving back. As well, it gives you so many more skills that don’t come with studying,” Emily Lints says in an email to The Uniter.
Lints is the founder and executive director of the Non-Profit Youth Leadership Network (NPYLN), an online non-profit organization that connects, educates and inspires youth across Canada to get involved in the nonprofit and volunteer sectors.
Lints founded the NPYLN in August 2020, and the network now has nearly 300 members and partners across Canada.
“Balancing school, volunteering, work and other responsibilities has never been easy, but I am inspired every day by the youth that we have within our organization,” Lints says.
“We like to remind those looking to volunteer that volunteering is a donation of your time, so you get to decide how much time to give,” Gloria Dovoh, the community relations coordinator at Volunteer Manitoba, says. “Even if you only volunteer once a year, you will still reap all the benefits of volunteering.”
For many young people, things like board governance, networking, scheduling and being one of the youngest people in the room can make volunteering feel inaccessible or intimidating. Although many organizations have created youth-specific positions, there is still much work to be done to ensure youth feel welcomed and respected.
“I have had some negative experiences with being a tokenized youth on boards,” Lints says. “I have been invited to participate in meaningful conversations, but I have also felt like I was simply sitting at the table for a photo-op.”
Volunteer Manitoba tries to ensure they provide services and programs to support youth who are hoping to gain new experiences through volunteering.
On Nov. 23, Volunteer Manitoba is “launching a brand-new program for youth who have a community project idea but don’t know where to start,” Dovoh says. “This program will pair you with an organization, give you all the training needed to execute the project and get you a bit of kickstarter money to start your project.”
For Lints, volunteering has been a major part of her life for many years. She encourages youth to take their volunteer journey at a pace that works for them, whether that means starting slow or just diving into the deep end.
“There are so many people who will catch you as you fall into your passions,” Lints says. “There are opportunities everywhere, be it in school, sports, campus life or with organizations in the community that align with your passions. No matter what you care about, there is likely an organization for you. I did not start with creating my own organization.”
Published in Volume 76, Number 09 of The Uniter (November 12, 2021)