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Making a difference

Student contributor encourages student volunteers to celebrate themselves

Student Life

By Leisha Toory

The start of a new semester means it is an opportunity for Memorial students to register for the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP). The registration deadline is Feb. 4.

The Student Volunteer Bureau’s (SVB) Volunteer Incentive Program  is a four-level program categorized into bronze, silver, gold, and platinum levels.

Changed perspective

During the past summer, I completed both the bronze and silver levels; during the fall, I completed the gold level.

By successfully completing the bronze and silver levels in one semester (while juggling my courses and part-time jobs), I acquired time management skills and refined my organization skills.

The VIP changed my perspective of volunteering in the sense that I do not have to wait for the holidays to find the time to volunteer.

Rather, I can plan accordingly and give back to the community during the school semester.

“These sessions helped boost both my confidence and productivity.”

Furthermore, I got to meet a lot of people, practise my communication skills and learn from each organization.

For example, while volunteering at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market, I met local farmers; at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, I had the opportunity to learn about Guide Dogs and American Sign Language; and as orientation operation lead for both fall 2021 and winter 2022 semesters, I acquired leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

A group of masked students stand in front of a barn covered in a mural with clouds, barns, trees and the sun on it.
Leisha Toory was operation lead at Rainbow Riders in St. John’s during Make Midterm Matter.
Photo: Submitted

Also, the Student Volunteer Bureau’s think tank events were a brilliant way to reflect on my volunteer experiences and actively think about why I volunteer and if I have achieved my goals. These sessions helped boost both my confidence and productivity.

Connecting via a shared passion

My first volunteering experience in St. John’s was an English as a Second Language conversation partner.

After that fulfilling experience, I decided to volunteer extensively and connect with the St. John’s community by signing up with multiple organizations.

What made me sign up for the VIP was the chance to build connections with the Memorial community, meet other Memorial student volunteers and to get involved in the various Memorial clubs.

“You just have to be willing to show up and take an interest in bettering yourself!” — Student Volunteer Bureau website

This was because I learned that the SVB is student-run, so I knew the VIP would be a great way to connect with Memorial students who share the same passion for volunteering.

Therefore, completing the VIP helps me to celebrate the friendships I’ve made along my VIP journey, all I learned during the professional development sessions, the realizations I made during the think tanks, the skills I acquired and, most importantly, it’s a daily reminder that today is a good day to give back to the community and make a difference.

Get involved!

The first day a Memorial student can start completing requirements for a particular VIP level is always the day after the last day of classes of the previous semester.

The deadline is the last day of classes of the semester for which students are registered for.

And as stated on the SVB website: “You don’t have to be a superstar or a saint, you just have to be willing to show up and take an interest in bettering yourself!”

As a volunteer assistant at the SVB last fall, I had the wonderful chance of taking on a leadership role to communicate the personal and professional benefits of getting involved to students as well as match students with volunteer placements that best reflect their interests.

And it is with that enthusiasm that I am encouraging all students to register for the VIP to celebrate their volunteerism.

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