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March 2, 2018 10:22 AM

Students use study week to volunteer in community

On February 28, a group of Conestoga students participated in Community Action Day - a service-learning opportunity for students to spend a day volunteering off-campus with community organizations. The event took place during the college's week-long study break to give students time to immerse themselves in a full-day volunteer experience - something they may not have a chance to do while classes are in session.

Conestoga College - Community Action Day 2018.JPG
During Community Action Day on February 28, Conestoga students volunteered at local non-profits. This group spent the day at Kitchener's House of Friendship while another team helped out at The Working Centre.

Student Engagement, in partnership with Security Services, coordinated the activity with two Kitchener non-profits, The Working Centre and House of Friendship. International students Ajith Kancharla and Kavitha Sukumar chose to help at the House of Friendship - they both agreed the opportunity was a chance to do something positive in the community while making connections and meeting new people.

“Conestoga students are busy. It’s easy to get stuck in our bubble on campus when we’re juggling a million assignments and group projects,” said Thomas Campbell, Conestoga Student Engagement programmer. “It’s important to explore our backyard and see what’s happening. Student Success Week is an excellent time to do that. You’re helping your community, but you’re also helping yourself. Volunteering and connecting with others creates an awesome feeling and is a great form of self-care.”

House of Friendship was established in 1939 and has grown to serve all of Waterloo Region, providing services in addiction, housing, and family support. Conestoga students volunteered at the organization’s Charles Street men’s shelter, which provides emergency shelter for men aged 16 years or older who have no current address.

Christine Stevanus, House of Friendship’s Housing Services director, said the shelter has been in overflow mode for several months.

“The need is great right now. I’ve commented previously that people don’t become homeless because it’s cold outside. We just see homelessness more when it’s cold … our focus is to help people find long-term permanent shelter and we’re blessed in this community that we are all working together.”

Kancharla, a student in the Project Management graduate certificate program, said he made sure not to book a shift at his part-time job on February 28 so that he could participate in Community Action Day.

“I come from a missionary school and we were told when we left that we should always use the practices we learned - to do good for the community. I’m happy that I could help today.”

Conestoga’s Student Engagement team meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives including the Co-Curricular Record, Orientation, the Respect Campaign, the Connect Leadership Workshop Series, Campus Service Learning, and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.

For more information, visit the Student Engagement website.

Visit The Working Centre and House of Friendship to learn more about their volunteer opportunities.

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