Volunteering for These Organizations Enriched My Immigration Experience

Volunteering has truly opened doors for me.  My life in Canada would not be as great without the help of several organizations.  So, it is a pleasure for me to pay the good deeds forward through these institutions.

Dress for Success Vancouver Fundraising Event
Photo of Me from the Dress for Success Vancouver Impact 2019 Facebook Album
(By Suzanne Rushton Photography)

Dress for Success Vancouver

Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization founded in New York City. It has served more than 1,000,000 women around the world since 1997. It empowers women into the workforce and enables them to be financially independent. They offer suiting, career services, and skills development programs. Dress for Success Vancouver (DFSV) is the first international affiliate outside the US.

As a newcomer, I availed of their suiting services, workshops, and Professional Women’s Group (PWG) program.

I started my volunteer journey a month after I graduated from PWG in 2014. I look after the registration desk during the PWG monthly meetings. At first, I volunteered to continue learning from their amazing speakers, enhance my soft skills, and maintain my newly built professional network. I got all that and so much more.

I became one of the DFSV ambassadors in 2019. As an ambassador, I was given a fun task of modeling at their annual IMPACT gala. I was also given leadership and public speaking training. This included a one-on-one coaching with a communications specialist and a TED talks trainer. In 2019, I had the honor of speaking at the Dress for Success global affiliates conference.  In 2020, I received the Inspiration Award.

My amazing experience at DFSV pushed me to volunteer with other organizations as well.

Volunteering at SUMS
Serving lunch at SUMS

Surrey Urban Mission Society

The Surrey Urban Mission Society was established in 1995. Since then, it has helped transform lives in the Whalley area of Surrey. It has 3 initiatives: Meal Program, Shelter, and Community Connection Services to its clients.

In 2018, my colleagues and I had the joy of volunteering at SUMS. We set-up tables, prepared lunch, and served meals for several dozens of beneficiaries.

We volunteered with a group of Korean ladies who graciously shared their traditional snacks with us. I had fun learning about a different culture. On top of that, I learned about the needs of my community.

Park clean-up event
Park Clean-up with the City of Surrey

City of Surrey

The City of Surrey is the biggest city by land area and second largest by population in Metro Vancouver. The city government offers several volunteering initiatives.

I had the privilege of organizing several volunteer events for my employer in cooperation with the city. It was all fun!

For 2 years, I managed a monthly street clean-up program. This required scheduling volunteers, giving safety orientations and submitting reports.

I also organized a park clean-up event. I put together a group composed of almost 20 employees and their family members. We cleared a section of a local park to prepare it for tree planting.

Also, I coordinated a tree-planting activity. My colleagues and I enjoyed the party-like setting during event. Plus, my co-workers’ kids had a great learning experience while completing their volunteering requirements. Above all, we gained a sense of community and purpose.

Volunteering at Amenida
Handing prizes after a Bingo event at Amenida

Amenida Seniors Community

Amenida is a a multicultural seniors community. It has provided independent living, assisted living, and respite services for more than 20 years.

I had fun helping set-up 2 bingo events and playing with the senior residents at Amenida.

Giving back has benefitted me in ways that I have not imagined. It has allowed me to gain Canadian experience, enhance my soft skills, and gain a sense of belonging. It has led me to opportunities that I otherwise would not find elsewhere.

Volunteering has truly enriched my immigration journey. Try it. It may also enrich yours.

Note: I intentionally blurred the photos to give respect to the other individuals.

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2 Responses

  1. Bob Naicker says:

    Nice work Katrina and it was fun watching you enjoy your time volunteering and how much fun you have doing this kind of work

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