By Melissa McGurk McNeil, ONFE Director of Advancement
As 2018 comes to a close, we are reflecting on the 25th year of ONFE’s Volunteers in Education program. Did you know that this program was introduced in 1993 with the name Seniors Volunteering in Education? At the time, the newly created initiative matched 35 seniors with 15 schools across Ottawa, and did not have the same scope as it does now.
Today, our larger Ottawa Volunteers in Education program places 1,500 individual volunteers in 152 schools annually. This year we are returning to our roots, thanks to a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation. This grant allows ONFE to recruit, screen, and train senior adult volunteers and find them meaningful volunteer opportunities in Ottawa schools to support students of all abilities. Though we are still in the early stages of this initiative, we have already recruited 73 seniors volunteers.
I was fortunate to sit in on a discussion among a group of seniors who are participating in this new project. Among the 25 people in attendance, there was over 50 years of volunteer experience in the room. Volunteers shared the joy they felt every week when they entered the school and heard children calling their name. Participants also shared their challenges and supported one another with tips on how to engage older students who do not want individual support.
“Best investment possible. Put a dime of effort in and get a dollar of pleasure back!” — Roger, a volunteer in the program
Every year, ONFE must recruit 800 new volunteers to support teachers and students in OCDSB schools. If you or someone you know would like to get involved, please contact Anne or Lee-Ann. To find out more about our volunteer programs and the many benefits of volunteering, check out our website: onfe-rope.ca/our-work/ottawa-volunteers-in-education/
Know a participant in the program with a story to share? Get in touch with us!