Blurring the Lines between Service and Life

By Kristy Yiu, student facilitator for CVA groups at Dr. Davey Breakfast Club and Newcomer Youth Centre (YMCA)

Our volunteer groups serve breakfast and connect with children four days a week at the Breakfast Program in Beasley neighbourhood. (Monday's Group)

My journey from a new to full-fledged facilitator with Community Volunteer Action (CVA) has been eye-opening in so many ways.  Despite being a volunteer for two years before becoming a facilitator, the transition was still overwhelming. Thanks to the various supports that Student Open Circles provided, it has been more manageable than I had imagined.  The biweekly Facilitator Training meetings are indispensable to any facilitator’s service with CVA, whether you’re just starting out in the role or a well-versed and seasoned pro.  Not only does the wide spectrum of themes provide me with a variety of reflection ideas for my weekly volunteer group I lead at the Breakfast program, it also draws out different opportunities for me to reflect upon my life.

Marybeth facilitates discussion with Friday’s Breakfast Program group on how to serve better and what we are learning about ourselves. CVA groups reflect together after each volunteer session.

We are not limited to discussing our difficulties or the rewards that we gain from volunteering, but are encouraged to bring in experiences from different aspects of our lives.  This welcoming inclusion soon blurred the lines of distinction between volunteering and the other parts of my life.  I have come to realize that volunteering IS a part of my life; it is not something brushed to the side in isolation, but instead seamlessly integrated into my weekly routine.  This bridge built by our Facilitator Training meetings allows me to bring in my own life experiences when discussing certain themes during the reflections I facilitate with my volunteer group, and I’ve noticed that this invites other volunteers to do the same.  It is amazing how this little change breaks the intimidating barrier that reflections may impose on some people.  Our Facilitator Training meetings have shaped me into seeing that reflection is not only a mandatory activity to be checked off a list of tasks at the end of a volunteering session, it is a chance for volunteers to have a meaningful conversation together.