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National Volunteer Week

Memorial students gave more than 6,000 hours of their time in 2020

Student Life

By Elizabeth Furey

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things over the past year, something that hasn’t changed is Memorial students’ commitment to volunteering.

In 2020 Memorial students gave more than 6,000 hours of their time to volunteer in their communities.

When the university moved to remote teaching and learning last March, student volunteer groups moved online, too.

Make Midterm Matter

Events like Make Midterm Matter, which has taken place almost every term since 2007, shifted online with great success.

Instead of heading out into the community to lend a hand at charitable organizations or to conduct cleanups, students, faculty and staff came together to write letters and cards and to create artwork for seniors in the community, instead.

“I made a few handmade cards and wrote a couple of paragraphs with a kind message inside,” said Alexandra Moss, a pharmacy student.

“Although Make Midterm Matter happened virtually, I still felt like I was making a difference to those members of our community, especially during such a difficult time.”

A card with text and a brown leaf printed on a cream background
A card made by a student during Make Midterm Matter this spring.
Photo: Submitted

Student Life’s Dr. Shannon Lewis-Simpson co-ordinated the event. She says the students “have been amazing” with continuing their volunteer work during the pandemic.

“The student volunteers have been able to give so much of themselves, despite and through the pandemic,” she said.

“Sometimes that has meant being physically present, but more often, moving out of their comfort zone and working with groups who moved their outreach remotely. It’s been great to see.”

Peer Mentor Network

Thanks to virtual meetups, the Peer Mentor Network has been thriving.

The volunteer program was developed out of a need for new students to connect with and learn from current students at Memorial.

Text of a poem written by a student during Make Midterm Matter
Poetry written by staff member Rosemary Thorne during Make Midterm Matter this semester.
Photo: Submitted

Current students share their stories and experiences with new students who are looking to learn more about what being a university student is like.

Both students and mentors say they find the program meaningful.

Student Volunteer Bureau

The Student Volunteer Bureau (SVB) has also been busy over the past year.

Elea Stephenson, co-ordinator of the SVB, says they’ve found ways for students to volunteer without having to leave their homes.

“Our services and offerings wouldn’t be the same without the power of teamwork.” — Elea Stephenson

“The SVB has been able to move to virtual volunteering relatively easily,” said Ms. Stephenson. “The events have changed due to the fact that a lot of our work has shifted online, but events we usually have in-person have continued. Some of our main events have even been pre-recorded, and some are taking place live through Webex.”

Some examples are virtual Trivia Nights, a SkillShare Series and Think Tanks. The bureau also held virtual award ceremonies, like the Volunteer Incentive Program and the Volunteer Awards.

National Volunteer Week runs from April 18-24, 2021.

“As an office that’s for students, run by students, the theme of Volunteer Week this year really resonates with us,” said Ms. Stephenson.

“Each individual has their own specific set of skills, but we recognize that it takes a team to get things done and bring about change. Our services and offerings wouldn’t be the same without the power of teamwork.”

This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week, running April 18-24, is The Value of One. The Power of Many. Volunteers Bring Change. 

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