This March, I was given the opportunity to participate in Hawthorn’s Service Project to Ottawa. Through the trip I not only strengthened my bond with my peers but also enriched my knowledge of Canada and was exposed to some eye opening experiences. We had the opportunity while in Ottawa to participate in different types of volunteering but also spend some time being tourists. We were exposed to four different types of volunteer work so that we could get a feel for which we liked and would want to do in the future.
The first organization we volunteered at was Ausome Camp. This is a March sports camp for children with autism. We volunteered here two days of the week and each of us were assigned a child with an older more experienced counselor. My buddy’s name was Quinn and we had a blast. Quin was very adventurous and we went hiking up and down the mountains multiple times. I truly enjoyed being around the kids and I enjoyed how the camp was run. The children got the one on one attention they needed and if they did not want to participate you would not force them to and let them join in when they are ready.
Another organization we volunteered at two days was Ottawa Mission. This is a men’s shelter where men can come and get breakfast and dinner as well as a packed lunch for work. The Ottawa Mission is one of the only shelters which has a hospice. The first day we volunteered there we got a brief presentation and after that we were off to make sandwiches. The way everything was organized truly reflected how much effort is put into helping the men and how much they care for them. On the second day of volunteering we were split up into three groups: one for putting candy in bags, the second for sealing the bags, and the third for writing inspirational messages to attach to the bags. I was part of the group that wrote the messages. I really enjoyed this type of volunteering as it is more hands on. I truly felt that I was making a difference and knowing that this one message might brighten someone’s day was surreal.
On Wednesday, we spent some time at a seniors residence visiting with the residents. When we first arrived, we joined a presentation being given by Fitminds as part of Brain Awareness week. This is a organization that educates both young and elderly on how we can keep our minds sharp and prevent some diseases such as alzheimer’s and dementia. As part of their presentation they listed a number of activities that we can do daily to keep our brains healthy. After this Fit Minds presentation we got a chance to talk with a resident one on one. My resident’s name was Lillian but she preferred to go by Lilly. She was full of stories and very funny. Volunteering here was one of the highlights for me as Lilly said that they don’t get very many visitors.
On Saturday night we volunteered at In From The Cold. This was by far one of my favourite experiences in Ottawa. In From The Cold is an organization that with the help of volunteers prepare a four course meal at no cost for those who can not afford to go to expensive restaurants. We worked as the servers, so we got to interact with the “customers” first hand. They were all extremely friendly and helpful. One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because after completing the volunteer work a fellow Torontonian came up to us and told us how we were making a big difference even if we might not think so.
Volunteering at these places truly opened my eyes to how privileged I am and how much I would like to volunteer in the future. At the beginning of the trip we were asked to make goals and I am happy to say that I fulfilled my three goals, which were to become strengthen my bond with my teachers and peers, become more humble, and break out of my shell and shyness. Having these goals in mind while on the trip really enhanced my experience.
We not only volunteered but also visit multiple tourist attractions, such as: the National Bank of Canada Museum, Nation Art Gallery, Ottawa Bytown Museum, the new west wing of Parliament and many more. Overall, I had an extraordinary time and am truly grateful I had the opportunity to attend this service project trip. I truly believe that it has brought me closer to my dreams of becoming a philanthropist and physician. I feel very proud to say I attended the trip and will forever cherish the memories made.
By: Hannah Adderley-Julien, Grade 10