Finding Purpose Through Volunteering

Finding Purpose Through Volunteering

By: Peggy Chen
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Have you ever thought to yourself, What am I doing with my life?

You are not alone.

Uncertainty is inevitable and common in any stage of life. For young adults in university and college, navigating through school and trying to figure out a career can be an especially difficult time. Every dollar spent towards tuition makes a difference, and making the right decision can be hard.

Thomas, an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University, was facing those same obstacles. He was pursuing a Science degree with the goal of becoming a nurse but was unsure of his next steps. Outside of school, he enjoyed working with youth and was passionate about healthy living, but didn't know how he could marry the two.

Through a classroom presentation, Thomas learned about the YWCA’s Boys 4 Real program and was sold on the opportunity. “It was a unique experience to work with youth, where you are giving them skills to prepare for high school.”

Thomas has been volunteering for the program for over 3 years. His favourite parts are the community service and healthy living modules, where he can share and apply what he's learning in university as a biology student. The community service project, in which volunteers lead Grade 7 youth to give back by visiting a seniors home or collecting cans for a food bank, is especially meaningful to Thomas.

“This part of [Boys 4 Real] makes you proud to be a volunteer, and the experience is just as priceless for the boys. It’s something they need to experience in order to grow as engaged young adults. And for me, it’s a great feeling to make a difference in so many communities in Vancouver.”

Seeing the impact

Volunteering with the YWCA has helped Thomas see the impact he can make as a mentor. Boys 4 Real has given him a clearer direction of where he is headed professionally. Since discovering his passion for working in a classroom, he is keen to continue on to teacher’s school after finishing his bachelor’s degree.

Giving back to others has helped Thomas with his personal development, too. “It’s helped me develop patience, tolerance, and presentation and teamwork skills, which helps me in school and life,” he says.

Thomas encourages other students to find time to volunteer and be engaged in the community, instead of only sitting in a classroom.

“There is always time to volunteer. The YWCA program is very flexible, and the staff are very accommodating. It only takes 3 hours of your week. Compared to how much time you spend playing games or watching TV, it’s nothing—you just need to make time for it.”

YOU can apply for this position now online on Symplicty (ID 67474)

YWCA Metro Vancouver's Youth Education Programs help Grade 7 girls and boys make the difficult transition to high school. Volunteer today and share your wisdom to help shape the future for young people in our community.


Peggy Chen is an SFU alumna who majored in Marketing and Communication. She is currently the Youth Engagement Coordinator at YWCA Metro Vancouver, connecting youth and students with meaningful volunteer experiences in the community – something she has been passionate about since her early days at SFU.  

Posted on February 02, 2016