Young people are gaining experience and building confidence through Volunteer Nanaimo’s Youth Volunteer Corps.
The Nanaimo Volunteer and Information Centre Society program, takes in young people aged 11 to 18.
Skye Groves, 21 and a team leader, recently graduated from Vancouver Island University’s criminology program and hopes to join the RCMP. She joined the corps to learn more about her community when she came to Nanaimo in 2012.
“We have team leaders and youth volunteers and we’ll go out with a group – I go with a group of younger kids usually – and volunteer at events, do whatever they need and all the youths do the same,” Groves said.
Youth volunteers are in high demand and help out at dozens of events throughout the year, ranging from fundraiser garage sales to the Vancouver Island Exhibition.
The most fun events for Groves were the downtown Easter, Halloween and Christmas events, and the Ride Don’t Hide cycling event to promote mental health and well-being.
“That was a cool event,” Groves said. “We co-ordinated the bikers, gave information to people who were around, did the goody bags and T-shirts – just whatever was needed.”
Groves is also a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island.
Michael Hill, 17, who just completed Grade 11 at Woodlands Secondary School, said volunteering situations and circumstances can force people out of their comfort zone, which builds confidence.
“Helping people is very satisfying, but for me it’s a lot more self-confidence since last year – insanely so,” Hill said. “I’m ready to get a job now. I’m not as stressed about stuff. It gives the experience to get out and actually start talking to lots of people – getting thrown into places that you don’t necessarily want to be and you have to deal with it. It breaks you out of your bubble.”
Tania Perry, 17, took on the role of program coordinator in May under a grant, but volunteers as well and said the program maintains a large core group of youths.
“It’s pretty big this year,” Perry said. “It’s about 30 people, plus about 10 team leaders. It going to be a pretty big group, but it depends every year on who’s interested and who gets in.”
“Way more youth should do it if they get a chance to,” Hill said.
To learn more or become a volunteer, please visit the Volunteer Nanaimo website at www.volunteernanaimo.ca or call 250-758-7121.