Tell us about yourself/your organization and how you came to volunteer at YESS.
My name is Valerie and I’m currently acting as the Diversity and Inclusion Intern for the University of Alberta’s Residence Services for the 2022/2023 year. I reached out to YESS in August 2022 to see if there was any interest in participating in our Day of Service event, an afternoon where students living in residence at the University of Alberta could choose amongst different community organizations to participate in a drop-in group volunteer session with for the afternoon. We were able to send a group to volunteer at the Armoury Resource Centre on August 26, 2022. In addition to that, another group of students were able to attend a virtual presentation on February 21, 2023, as part of our Alternative Reading Week program, a 4-day long service-learning program that aims to engage students living in residence in different social issues that affect the Edmonton community.
Why did you choose to volunteer at YESS and how do you see your impact as a volunteer?
The main reason YESS came to mind when I was narrowing down a list of community organizations to contact for volunteer opportunities to promote to students living in residence was due to friends having recounted their positive experiences with YESS, be it in a volunteer capacity or through club involvement like the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign. While I have not had the opportunity to volunteer with YESS myself, having needed to stay behind in the office to coordinate the various drop-in group volunteer sessions during Day of Service, and having been away from the office during Alternative Reading Week, I am fortunate to be able to provide wonderful opportunities like these to the students living in residence.
What is one thing you wish the community knew about YESS youth?
I wish the community knew that there is more than meets the eye for YESS youth. YESS youth are humans just like you and me, who are currently experiencing difficult circumstances. Yet, they are so very strong, brave, hopeful, and resilient. It takes tremendous courage to face a world so determined to set barriers in front of them, and yet grow, thrive, and flourish in spite of that, if given the proper support, resources, and compassion.