Mentoring At-Risk Youth is Heartwarming

by Justin Brunet, student and volunteer group facilitator

Open Circle student leader training activity

I volunteer and facilitate a volunteer circle at Pathways to Education, a tutoring program for at-risk high school students at North Hamilton Community Health Centre. Not only do we assist in homework and assignments, we also act as a mentor and social support system for these students.

Helping and interacting with the same students every week for over a year has been extremely rewarding. Knowing that students, who may not have a mentor at home or school, are excited to see you at Pathways and specifically ask for your tutoring help is heartwarming. I have seen several students grow academically and emotionally over the past year that I would not have otherwise seen if volunteering inconsistently. Student Open Circles has provided such a positive and rewarding experience for me and offers an amazing opportunity for volunteers. The volunteers who have worked with me at Pathways continuously tell me that they enjoy being there each week and have provided large amounts of positive feedback!

What makes Student Open Circles stand out from other organizations is the post-volunteering reflections each week. Facilitating creative and rich reflections as a volunteer circle facilitator allows me to build on my strengths and weaknesses, and gain a deeper emotional understanding of my values. Volunteers have told me that the reflections have made their service experiences more positive and enriching. Student Open Circles has undoubtedly changed my view on the importance of volunteering and self-reflection, and I would not trade this for anything else.