Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 23 - 29
Centre for Autism Service volunteers shine!
Meet some of our amazing volunteers...
Echo Lee enjoys experiences and support found in volunteering
“Having twins boys with autism inspired Echo to volunteer with the Centre. “I wanted to learn about autism and how to help my own kids. Volunteering with the Centre for Autism Services Alberta, surrounded by other families, I felt less alone in the challenges I experienced,” says Echo.
Echo found that volunteering provided not only support from other families, but new experiences and friendships in a friendly environment that gave her a break from daily routine. “As many parents who have children with autism know, it can be difficult and there is much hard work. Volunteering allowed me to refocus and recharge.”
Echo spent many years In China, where she was an active volunteer. “Volunteering is part of life for me and I don’t want to change it,” says Echo. “I have learned so much from my experience with autistic children and the experts at the Centre. It is very rewarding.”
Travelling with her family, reading and yoga help this busy mom and dedicated volunteer to relax and enjoy life.
“As a new volunteer at the Centre, I am still learning, but as a parent with autistic children, I bring an understanding of that experience, successes and challenges alike, and offer insights that may help other families and kids. In volunteering, I believe that we receive far more than we give. I’d encourage others to volunteer whenever they have the opportunity.”
Thank you Echo and all Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteers. Your passion for people and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
Volunteer Kim Lacusta (left) helps kids with autism reach their potential
“Before volunteering at the Centre, I had no experience working with kids with autism. My professor in an undergrad class, who also worked at the Centre, told me about many great opportunities and experiences that the volunteer program there offered. I decided to look into it,” says Kim.
“Volunteering at the Centre provided me with experiences I didn’t have before. Getting to know the kids in my community program has been the best. I’ve gotten to know each of them and they got to know me as well. As a volunteer being consistent in my commitment is so important. Time I dedicate as a volunteer allows these kids to participate in their chosen program every week. I volunteer in the art program, and usually get to spend time with the same kid each week, assisting them when they need help and keeping them on track.”
Kim enjoys cheering on the Oilers, trying new restaurants and going to the farmer’s market. “Volunteering is an important part of my life and a rewarding experience in so many ways. You get to meet people who you might not have met under different circumstances. You also get to learn about and support kids with autism, helping them to reach their potential. For me, it’s worth your time.
Thank you Kim and all Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteers. Your passion for people and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
Meghan Edgson enjoys making connections with kids and teens
University student, Meghan has turned a love for working with children into the perfect volunteer experience. In her first year of studies, with an interest in speech pathology, she found that volunteer opportunities provided by the Centre for Autism Services Alberta were the perfect match. “Volunteering can open many doors when it comes to networking, gaining new experience, and learning new skills. It is also a fun and a rewarding break from studying. It reminds me that there is more to life than just getting good grades,” says Meghan.
“In volunteering at the Centre, I have learned new ways of working with children. Applying these skills and seeing real changes in the kids that I volunteer with is the most rewarding part of my experience.” “I have had opportunities to learn new things through training offered at the Centre, and in the different community programs I help with.”
Yoga and running help provide balance for Meghan when studies and pursuit of an honors degree in Linguistics become stressful. An interest in research and plan to attend grad school in a few years keep this dedicated volunteer busy. “Volunteering is a great way to have new experiences and meet a bunch of like-minded people,” says Meghan. “I’d encourage people to volunteer at the Centre because the staff and families are friendly and welcoming – and it is also lots of fun.”
“People should volunteer because it is a way to have new experiences and meet a bunch of like-minded people. People should volunteer at the Centre specifically because the staff, families, and volunteers are very friendly and welcoming. It is also a lot of fun!
Thank you Meghan and all Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteers. Your passion for people and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
Program volunteer, Arun Pye, looks to help others in his free time
Often the best recruitment for new volunteers comes from current volunteers who have rewarding and enriching experiences with an organization. When Arun’s girlfriend told him of the wonderful experience she was having as a volunteer at the Centre for Autism Services Alberta, he thought he would give it a try. “I wanted to help people in my free time. Working with kids and teens in Centre programs and seeing them make progress, made me feel that I was making a contribution in a meaningful way,” says Arun.
An active soccer fan and player, Arun believes that being active is important. “I volunteer with the Active for Life Program at the Centre, as well as the Kick Start Soccer Program.”
“I find time to volunteer because it is a fulfilling way to give back to community. There are so many different ways to volunteer, and there is something out there for everyone."
Thank you Arun and all Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteers. Your passion for people and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
Lilian Dang sees volunteering as a way to better your community
“My sister told me her volunteer time at the Centre for Autism Services Alberta was great. The positive and rewarding experience she had inspired me to volunteer as well,” says Lilian Dang. “I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to help out my people in my community.”
Lilian volunteers with kids in the Little Aces Summer Camp for ages 3-5. She has also helped with the Centre's popular Family Night events. "It's always fun just to play with the kids and have them smile. In Summer Camps, seeing them interact with others and succeed in activities is the most rewarding thing for me as a volunteer."
Lilian is committed to her role as a volunteer and available for any job staff needs assistance with. "Putting yourself out there enhances the experiences you have, and creates many new opportunites to engage in," she explains.
As a busy University of Alberta student, who enjoys dancing and coffee with friends, volunteering fulfills an important place in Lilian's life. "It's a way to improve yourself in different areas of your life, like social skills for example," shares Lilian. "Volunteering also gives you a sense of joy that you can be part of bettering the community."
Thank you Lilian, and all Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteers. Your passion for people and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
Volunteering at the Centre “rewarding and enriching” for Adam
On a recommendation from a friend, and with an interest in neurodevelopmental disorders, Adam came to the Centre and started with Camp Ace and the Fun with Art programs. "The most rewarding thing for me is helping participants be better able to express themselves through mediums other than just speech," says Adam. "For the folks on the autism spectrum that are non-verbal, seeing their passion as they're able to transmit their thoughts through art or dance or cooking is quite heart-warming for me."
In his volunteer work with young adults in the Social Night program, Adam gets to know the unique stories and perspectives of each participant. "It honestly does not feel like volunteering at all; I see them as my peers and as my friends," he shares.
Adam takes his time with each activity and interaction. “I think the greatest thing you can ever do for someone is to make them feel like you have all the time in the world for them,” says Adam. “With my work as a volunteer at the Centre, I want to help kids and young adults feel empowered to be themselves and to do the things that they love to do. If I can do that, it’s the biggest reward for me. I hope to make them feel at ease and provide support by listening and guiding. Often, I learn right alongside them.”
“Volunteering at the Centre is an enriching experience for me, and gives me a chance to enrich the lives of others. It gives me an opportunity to grow and learn in a way that is not available in a classroom. Volunteering at the Centre lets me connect with some truly remarkable people and other compassionate, enthusiastic staff and volunteers. I’m a new volunteer, but certainly don’t intend on leaving any time soon!”
Adam has also served as VP External with the Centre for Autism's Student Association at the University of Alberta Campus for the past two years. “In this position, I've had the opportunity to increase awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and its multifaceted nature, through interactive and experiential learning opportunities. A core philosophy that I've cultivated, and this lends itself quite well to my future career in medicine, is that advocacy is not about speaking on behalf of a person or a group of people; rather, it is empowering those people to speak for themselves and to share their stories and perspectives,” says Adam.
Adam's passion for helping others extends into his University studies as a first-year medical student, with a desire to go into psychiatry or neurology. This busy student and volunteer balances his time with some relaxing moments as an avid movie buff, board game enthusiast, and Oiler's fan
Thank you, Adam. As a Centre for Autism Services Alberta volunteer, your passion for helping others and dedication to our program are valued and appreciated.
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