Volunteer Group Reflections Inspire Change

by Sharon Matthew

Sharon is our student facilitator for a new CVA group at the Welcome Inn Seniors Program.

When I began facilitating a CVA volunteer group I quickly realized that to have a successful weekly group reflection, I need to nurture an atmosphere of positivity and trust within the group. The first day was one of new beginnings; we were all learning each others' names, the bus routes and just plain anticipating the new volunteer experience. Reflection on the first day was a subdued affair. I opened with icebreakers, got a few laughs, and somewhere along the way we became fast friends. With our new found comfort with each other, my group quickly started sharing ways they thought our volunteering experience could be enhanced.

Reflection ideas were mostly inspired by the seniors at the Welcome Inn Community Center. Every day before lunch, somebody says grace and there is more depth and meaning to their every word because they have realized that they have led a full life despite trials. I was motivated to ask my volunteer group members how they would avoid regret or lost dreams from being a big part of their lives. This was a more personal time as people shared about how they don't want to keep grudges and never take relationships or opportunities in life for granted. Some days we did things as simple as “give a weather forecast for your day,” where people used their creativity to share how they felt purely in terms of emotions—this was useful in getting to the core of what people felt like they were gaining from their volunteering time. Other times we had discussions about world issues and one time I brought up the topic of human trafficking in Hamilton. This really opened our eyes to pressing issues that we as the future generation will need to be accountable for.

My brief foray into connecting volunteering with more large scale issues really made me think that in group reflections, looking at the global scope of our topics better prepares us to become effective citizens of the world. The skills of leadership, creativity and introspection that accompany reflection time can be used to inspire innovative ideas and eventually fuel steps to a local and global change.