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Student volunteers make connections on Community Outreach day

LUNCH TIME: U of T Scarborough student Christie Au Yeung helps out at lunchtime at a local daycare centre on Community Outreach Day. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

Volunteering is a way to contribute to the community and give back, according to U of T Scarborough students who took part in Community Outreach Day.

Organized by the department of student life, the day drew a total of 72 students out to local agencies on September 26. Daycare centres, women’s shelters, seniors’ centres and other organizations received volunteers on that day.

Participating agencies were: Cliffcrest Community Centre; East Metro Youth Services; East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club; Goodwill Industries of Toronto; Heart and Stroke Foundation; Juliette’s Place; Momiji Health Care Society; Red Cross; Rosalie Hall; and True Davidson Acres.

“One of the goals of the day is for students and for the agencies they are helping to see that university is not just about academics,” said Liza Arnason, director of the department of student life. “We want everyone to see that universities are places where people grow and develop into responsible citizens.”

Although the outreach was a one-day event, Arnason said that it can serve as a catalyst for future volunteering opportunities, and it helps students to forge relationships in the community.

“The agencies can see that there are partnerships available to them with U of T and that they have somewhere to turn if they need extra hands or if they have a special project that requires some assistance and support,” she added. “My hope is that our students feel a connection to the community and see this day as the beginning of an opportunity to do more.”

Indeed, several students indicated that they had gained a great deal from their experience volunteering, and that they hope to do more in the future.

“Volunteering is a whole new way of learning outside of school,” said Christie Au Yeung, a fourth-year management student. “It’s important to get involved in something outside of school. It’s a great experience, and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people.”

“As students we probably take a lot from the community and have many people helping us,” said Ann Tulalian, a fourth-year student in psychology and biology. “This day is a chance for us to give back to others.”

Volunteer work also provides some firsthand learning in a given field that can help in a particular career later on, said Chantal Yang, a fifth-year life sciences and environmental science student.

“I love children and want to pursue a career in child care or teaching, so volunteer opportunities like today give me experience in the filed,” she said from a daycare where she volunteered.

While in first year, biology student Alison Ngo said the pace of first-year university and the range of academic demands made it too hectic for her volunteer. “Now that I’m in second year, I’m more used to the pace and the workload, so I felt more comfortable volunteering this year. It’s nice to spend a day away from my studies to give back to the community.”

The department of student life will be coordinating more community engagement events in the future. Watch for details at http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~studentlife/outreach/.

Students who wish to volunteer for future events can contact Tasleem Hudani at outreach@utsc.utoronto.ca or (416) 208-4796.




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