A Journey from Student to Volunteer

Richard T. gave ninety-six hours of his time over six months to support residents at the Cottonwood, Connolly, and Cypress Lodges on the Riverview lands in Coquitlam, BC. The lodges aid in the short-term and long-term recovery of mental health residents in specialized care.

Some of the activities Richard facilitated were recreational and life skills activities. He spent time with residents playing board games, participating in group walks, and taking part in movie nights. These activities are important to the mental well-being and a feeling of connection to their community for residents, which anyone would benefit from.

Richard almost didn’t make it through the screening stages of the volunteer application process, and came to volunteering through a course requirement for his post-secondary studies in a related field.

Volunteering didn’t come naturally to Richard, and he struggled in the beginning. He had to learn to take the initiative and follow through with direction. This proved to be a huge learning curve for him, because he was timid and shy but he was given the chance to follow through and as a result his determination paid off. His growth was spectacular. During his volunteer exit interview, Richard reflected on his bumpy start and came to the realization that ” Just because I failed once does not mean it represents me as a person.”

That’s an incredible realization for a young adult to have. For most young adults, volunteering is the first time they’ve been asked to be responsible for others, and to dedicate their time and make a commitment to helping others. Richard’s volunteer experience helped him become a more outgoing person in his personal and professional life.  

There are many ways in which volunteering in the community can help students develop skills, confidence, and work-related experiences. Richard dedicated his time to getting to know the residents and through his efforts learned to improve his communication skills and build personal relationships, contributing to a positive outcome in support of their recovery.

On the last interaction with his volunteer supervisor, Richard reported that he felt more confident, and more open to shared conversations. He found his voice, felt more comfortable around people and learned to follow direction. He pushed through his shyness and developed into a person who believed in himself.

And his experience had another outcome he hadn’t expected. For some time, Richard had a gaming channel on YouTube with a healthy following of 2K. Over the course of his volunteer experience, his gaming channel grew to 16.7K users which he attributes to the impact of his volunteer experience. ” I had to believe in myself and what I was doing.”

From the Residents

“he’s a good guy”

“I will miss you”

Richard T.

“Thank you Richard for supporting us. It’s very kind of you. Good Job!”

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