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Getting a Head Start

skills for jobs | skills for life a guide to volunteering for students and young adults obtain the skills and experience for gainful employment live a healthy life | become self confident, healthy and strong gain experience | make an impact | build skills | help yourself

The purpose of this guide is to: • Support students in fulfilling volunteer requirements for graduation or for college and university scholarships • Introduce the PASSPORT to building Skills for Jobs | Skills for Life through volunteering • Empower youth with the tools and resources to find interesting, challenging and rewarding volunteer opportunities • Inspire young adults to embrace a lifelong commitment to community involvement

Getting Started Looking for a volunteer opportunity can actually mirror the experience of acquiring a paying job. If the organization is not convinced that someone is ready and willing to volunteer, they won’t necessarily select him/her for the position. Young people must demonstrate a commitment to volunteering, and their goals must be in line with those of the organization. Simple Steps To Start Volunteering 1. Review the online VOLUNTEER SEARCH at and click on “Volunteer Opportunities to find positions open to youth. Consider: how to get there, time availability, genuine willingness, can it be done with a friend? 2. CONTACT the person responsible when you find a position you might like. Phone or send an email to the volunteer coordinator to find out if the position is available. 3. COMMUNICATE what is needed to complete the process. Introduce yourself. Get more details about position. Find out what to do next to apply. 4. FOLLOW UP as soon as possible to demonstrate your intentions are real. Ask for a time to meet or visit to determine if it is a good fit. (This is good practice for social skills.) 5. Be sure to SHOW UP ON TIME and prepare for a great learning experience. AFTER you’ve have found suitable organizations or volunteer ideas, visit websites and review the organizations’ missions and the types of programs they run. Ask yourself these questions: • Does the volunteer position match your interests, time availability and values? • Is the location of the volunteer position easily accessible? • What will you learn from volunteering there? • Will you be comfortable with the people you will be working with? • Be persistent. Finding the right opportunity takes an investment in time and energy, but the rewards can be immeasurable.

Volunteer Expectations Go Both Ways Expectations that many non-profits have for their Volunteers • be punctual and wear appropriate dress • find out what the volunteer work entails; follow through on commitments • be able to maintain confidentiality • be open and willing to learn; ask questions for clarification and understanding • be honest, treat other volunteers and staff with respect • recognize that volunteer work is important to the organization; let your supervisor know if you need to be absent Here’s what volunteers can expect from the organizations: • orientation and training for the work they are expected to perform • a job description • suitable tasks which respect the volunteers personal interests, skills, and experience • arrange a mutually agreed upon work schedule; and be flexible • who their supervisor will be and that the supervisor will complete the Passport • treat the volunteer with the same respect and dignity as their co-workers • recognize the work the volunteer contributes

South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre PASSPORT to Skills for Jobs | Skills for Life The PASSPORT from the Volunteer Centre will help provide you and your next employer with a clearer indication of what skills and experiences you’ve developed along with verification from the nonprofit where you volunteered. The South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre is committed to helping Volunteers achieve the best or ultimate experience. An “ultimate volunteer experience” is an experience that gives you the satisfaction and challenge that you need. It happens within the time you have available and lets you decide what’s right for you. In order to help you explore what the ultimate volunteer experience means for you, we suggest that you:

1. Register for your own personal PASSPORT to building skills and experience through volunteering. Call or e-mail the Volunteer Centre to obtain your passport. In some cases a passport may be made available through your student counselor. 2. Complete the volunteering self assessment tool (contained in the passport). Once you have an idea about what your volunteering goals are, go to to explore the volunteer opportunities at our member organizations. 3. Get your PASSPORT stamped. Once you’ve completed a volunteer assignment, ask your supervisor or volunteer coordinator to sign the PASSPORT, indicating the skills and experience you’ve garnered, and verifying your contributions to the organization.

Keep Healthy And Strong Your Entire Life Volunteering builds confidence and self-esteem and fosters a sense of connectedness: Research shows that volunteering alleviates depression, as it helps one feel less isolated. It helps develop solid support systems protecting against stress during challenging times. Volunteering has been shown to decrease negative moods and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Volunteering boosts self-confidence and self-esteem, increases happiness and life satisfaction and is associated with longer life expectancy. For example: The United Way, Literacy Now, Okanagan Community College and the United Church offer volunteers a chance to connect with others while helping to coordinate projects, promote events and through mentoring and tutoring others. Engaging in volunteer activities early in life allows you to experience altruism; a self-less devotion and concern for others. Practicing altruism to help better someone else’s life fosters a sense of wellbeing and happiness in your life. There are 100’s of volunteer positions open in the South Okanagan Similkameen Region. So wherever you live in the region, a volunteer opportunity awaits you.

Make An Impact You’re sharing your talents and knowledge: You have skills, talents, knowledge, experience, personality and passion. Each of us is unique and has something to share with others. Young people especially have technical and social media skills and knowledge. All of your skills and knowledge are needed in non–profit societies and charities. You’re advancing the common good: Sometimes we wonder why things are as they are and if they could be different. By volunteering, we contribute to this difference by making a positive change. By volunteering, we help make our community a better place to live, and we become part of the solution. Professional non-profit societies and charities are important business organizations that deal with most complex social, economic, and environmental issues in our region, and they do so continually with limited resources and funding. Volunteers are critical resource that these organizations appreciate and value. And, as a volunteer in these businesses you gain skills and knowledge that can help you through your own personal challenges.

Professional non-profits and charities help make families healthy and strong, ensure children are given the help they need to succeed in school, ensure people with disabilities and the elderly are able to live as independently as possible, and ensure people live in safe, supportive neighborhoods. Volunteering is fundamental to a democracy, it is your democratic freedom to volunteer, AND it provides you, the volunteer, with essential information that helps evaluate political parties and electoral candidates.

Skills for Jobs | Skills for Life Volunteer activities add value to college applications and work resumes: University and College admission staffs want to know who you are as a person. They’re looking for well-rounded individuals who will give their best both within and outside the classroom. Volunteering helps develop essential skills and build important experience needed for paid work. Potential employers want to know if you show up on time, can take direction, are responsible, and work well with others. A good reference from a nonprofit organization you’ve volunteered with can help a potential employer decide that you’d be a good employee.

For example: As in the past, the key skills remain to hold a job, such as knowing a trade, following directions, getting along with others, working hard, and being professional—efficient, prompt, honest, and fair. Volunteering offers you the opportunity to use and further develop skills including the following: • Communication • Working effectively with Information

• Technical: numeracy and media • Creativity

• Leadership and Teamwork

• Self-Discipline

• Organization and Productivity

• Positivity

Volunteering helps a student do more in-depth life and educational planning and helps provide the motivation to do better. When you volunteer you learn about life and what’s important to you and others. You learn about the importance of setting and achieving goals and what inspires you and others. You learn more about whom you want to work with and what type of work you like to do. Volunteers, who love the organization, the people, and the work, have been seen to become paid employees with that organization when the opportunity arises! For example: If you would like to grow your leadership skills, event planning and Board Director positions are open to youth in virtually all nonprofit Societies. Look for opportunities that allow you to really explore areas that already interest you by searching through positions listed at

Have FUN! It’s fun; it fosters happy moods and builds confidence People who volunteer say that they get more out of the experience than they give. Giving of your time and energy makes you feel good about yourself and raises your self-esteem. Working with other volunteers helps build friendships. Volunteering helps you learn about different career paths that may interest you Through Volunteering you can learn more about what you enjoy doing. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to try out different work before you choose on a lifelong career. Volunteering can also give you the external variety and change of scenery needed to validate and strengthen your career choice.

For example: If you like to work with people volunteer with the Desert Sun Counseling and Resource Centre, the Women in Need Society, the Red Cross, the Penticton Access Centre or Oliver Parks and Recreation, the Victim Assistance or the Bereavement Resource Centre. If you are interested in learning about Health, local organizations such as the Alzheimer, Schizophrenia, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Mental Health Association, the Brain Injury Society and Heart and Stroke Foundation all need volunteer help. If you like Social Media, volunteer with Crime Stoppers. If you like to work with technology and people, volunteer with Life Line.

Meet new people with similar interests By volunteering you’ll meet other people with the same interests you have. For example: If your grandparents have passed away or live far away and you don’t get to see them often, you can become friends with a senior adult and help them with various day to day activities by volunteering with the Better at Home program. To meet new people or those who have come here from other countries, volunteer for Immigrant and Community Services where you’ll learn about their life style and culture and help them adapt to life here. Volunteer with the Institute for the Blind or the Multiple Sclerosis Society and increase your understanding of the challenges that people face and strategies to live well in the face of limitations. If you like to learn about nature, wildlife and gardening volunteer with the Rehabilitation Centre for Owls. If you’d like to learn about the environment and plant life volunteer with the Friends of the Summerland Gardens or the Parks Society.

Sources of Information: South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre, 2014; The Essence of Good Health is to do Good. Volunteer Canada; Building Blocks for Youth Volunteer Engagement 12 Universal Skills You need to succeed at anything;

How the Volunteer Centre helps you: • We provide you with your own personal PASSPORT-FREE • We review your Self-Assessment with you-FREE • We provide a list of potential volunteer opportunities-FREE The Volunteer PASSPORT can help identify personal talents and can boost selfconfidence when deciding on volunteer options, determining post-secondary education choices, conducting a job search and planning for a career.

Member Organizations of the Volunteer Centre: • Are registered BC non-profits and registered federal charities • Are experienced in working with volunteers • Are open to youth volunteers, and actively seek youth volunteers • Have training and knowledge on best practices for engaging volunteers, especially youth! • Provide service throughout the South Okanagan Similkameen Region and need volunteer help in all locations • Post their volunteer jobs in the Volunteer Centre’s searchable database South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre Society 102-696 Main Street, Penticton, BC, V2A 5C8 Tel: 1-888-576-5661 E-Mail: WEB: We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia Thank you to the TD Bank Group for their support

Getting a head start guide to volunteering students and youth  
Getting a head start guide to volunteering students and youth