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Volunteer Connect 2019 –

Volunteer Connect this past Saturday marked the start of CityKidz spring program season. With all our programs set to kick off next week, we knew it was about time we got the staff, volunteers and Jr. Leadership teams together to meet, mingle, laugh, learn and prepare for what’s sure to be our best program season yet!

Fresh and Familiar Faces

The day was a chance for fresh and familiar faces to get to know one another. It was an opportunity to learn about some of the new and exciting changes awaiting our fantastic kids – like a new sound-booth-turned-treehouse in the Studio Theatre, prepare for the upcoming program season and enjoy some delicious food generously provided by The Harbour Diner.

Our earliest arrivals quickly found coffee and their fellow early birds. Right away, our seasoned volunteers spotted the rookies in the room and took them under their wing. Hearing that people were here for their 5th , 8th or 18th year of volunteering was an immediate assurance to newbies that they were in a special place.

Throughout the morning, it was fascinating to learn the different – sometimes winding – paths that brought people to CityKidz. One new volunteer, Diana, had long seen the big red buses driving about her neighbourhood. She’d even taken her son to KinderKidz when he was young.

“I always wanted to be involved, volunteer and give back,” explained Diana, and she now found herself in a position to do just that.

Another young woman, Jenny, had attended CityKidz programs growing up and found CityKidz something of a second home. An officer said he’d heard of us working with the police forces. Others learned of us through their church, their neighbours, their friends. The more people you met, the more that a wonderful web of relationships and small-world coincidences and connections emerged.

Young Leaders

Not long after 9:00 the buses arrived with a fleet of Jr. Leaders. They were groggy, but they were here. Not one of these teenagers had to get up early on a Saturday to be here but they did. Surrounded by friends they hadn’t seen in months and a steady flow of sugary hot chocolate, they quickly perked up.

The excited crowding of youth around 9:30 let us know that Susan had arrived. Susan’s been volunteering with us for 18 years and is something of a celebrity to the youth on her route. They know they can count on Susan for love, patience, wisdom, grace and unrelenting cheer.

With everyone present, it was time to get the day going. Volunteers and youth were ushered into the Studio Theatre (the oooohs and aaahhs of first timers to the theatre never gets old!) where the ever energetic CityKidz Saturday cast kicked off the day’s program with icebreaker games that had everyone looking for a partner with matching socks, birthdays or middle names.

Groggy-no-more, when it came time to sing and dance along with the cast, our youth were quick to jump out of their seats, get moving and encourage newcomers to do the same. They knew every word and every dance move and were eager to show anyone who didn’t how it was done.

Changing the World

With energy levels high, it was time to get everyone ready for the season to come. After a couple of announcements and updates everyone broke up into smaller groups based on their roles – as bus drivers, KinderKidz team members, captains, food prep etc. – to dig a little deeper into what the season and their role in it would look like.

More importantly, everyone got the chance to connect a little deeper with the community around them. Everyone had a chance to share a little piece of their heart and their story and to receive the same from their fellow volunteers.

That’s the incredible thing about volunteering: it brings people together whose paths may not otherwise cross. For all the differences – their stories, motivations and talents – between the people gathered together last Saturday, the shared vision of a future free from child poverty united dedication to make that dream a reality brought them together.

In this way, Volunteer Connect is a glowing reminder of the transformative power of people coming together to change the world around them, each with their own unique story, motivation and talents.

 

Thank you to everyone who attended Volunteer Connect on Saturday. And thank you to all our volunteers for gifts you bring to CityKidz and share with precious children across Hamilton.

 

Feeling inspired? Email volunteer@citykidz.ca to join our team!

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