Balancing classes with work and social life can take up so much time. But there are some students at Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College who also make time for volunteering. Here are their reasons as to why and how they fit volunteer work into their busy schedules.
Raising awareness about food insecurity
“My studies can get pretty intense sometimes, but personally for me, I am fortunate enough to never have to face any food insecurities or to worry about where my next meal will come from,” says second-year marine biology student Kathleen McVittie. She has volunteered at the Dalhousie Student Union Food Bank since January.
The Food Bank, located in the Student Union Building (SUB), offers free basic foods and supplies for students and staff in need. McVittie learned about the Food Bank when she saw their booth at the Society & Volunteer Expo in her first year.
“I wanted to volunteer here to be another person who can help out and can take over hours and keep the food bank open and accessible for more students.”
McVittie says she has wonderful colleges, and she truly enjoys the volunteer work.
“I really like the restocking, once we get the delivery, and just unpack and organize everything and putting it out!”
Hot meals for students
King’s student Joanna Daley also volunteers to provide students with free food on campus. Since September 2019, she has volunteered at the Loaded Ladle.
From Tuesday to Friday, the Loaded Ladle serves free, locally sourced meals on Dal campus. It is located in the SUB, and considering the long lines formed around the Loaded Ladle every week, their meals seem quite popular among students.
Integrating volunteer work into an already busy schedule didn’t hold Daley back from supporting a good cause.
“It is only about an hour and a half a week and I only have one class on Friday,” she explains. “I really like the people I’m volunteering with. They are really nice and aware of social issues. I think it is very important that people have free access to something they need to survive.”
Boosting job prospects
Volunteering is often thought of as a way to give back to the community, but it’s also a way to gain valuable job skills while being in school. Third-year biology student Eric Reich is aware that for future employment, volunteering can be essential.
“I volunteer because I need to stand out amongst really high competition. So, in order to be able to get a job after finishing my degree, professional experiences are extremely helpful,” Reich says.
No matter what industry, employers always seem to like volunteer work on a resume.
So, Reich’s volunteer work at Dal’s Aquatron Laboratory serves two purposes: “I’m counting cute fishes and helping the research, but I also make sure to be a competitive applicant.”
Meeting like-minded people
But that’s not all. Volunteering isn’t just about fundraising, career opportunities or giving back. Volunteering also means getting to meet people with similar passions as you. It can be a chance to learn from the diversity of people you work with — all bringing different perspectives, experiences and skills.
Fourth year English student Jessica Nelson volunteers for South House, a gender resource centre on Seymour Street.
“Volunteering is very useful for applications and it is a big thing for bursaries and scholarships too, but also a very good way to meet people with similar interests when you come to a new place to study.”
Nelson helps organize the Rad Book Club, which meets every Sunday at Glitter Bean Café. This season, they’re reading Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-fi Anthology.
“I love books and like to talk about it,” says Nelson. “Having good conversations with people who also love the same thing is my favourite thing about the work!”