Gratitude Inspired by Volunteering

by Amruta Radhakrishnan

CVA student facilitator, Community Gathering at Ontario March of Dimes

From the first day of volunteering with CVA, a special focus is placed on conducting reflection.  As a facilitator for the first time, the task of leading reflection was especially daunting to me.  But from my experiences, I came to realize that reflection can shape itself if the environment is friendly and relaxed.  On our very first day, things didn’t exactly go as planned as we got lost multiple times on the way to our placement.  Strange though it may seem, I am now thankful for that day of lost wandering in Hamilton!  It gave our entire group the opportunity to relax, freely talk to each other, and get to know each other better.  It served as one giant, bizarre icebreaker in a way.  Thus, on our first actual day of volunteering, reflection seemed like a natural course.

At our placement, we volunteer with clients with severe physical disabilities.  At first, our entire group was simply shocked and didn’t really know how to react.  Unfortunately, our first reactions were those of pity, and reflection that day mainly revolved around how sad we were feeling.  But as time progressed, we realized that the clients were no different from us. We were able to talk to them about a host of topics, play games, go for walks, and make jokes.  Our interactions with them set the tone for reflection, and we often found ourselves discussing how fortunate we are despite our incessant complaining about university.  We are lucky to have a fantastic group dynamic and meet incredibly inspiring individuals at our placement.