#GivingTuesday and the Importance of Giving Thanks
Katja Lemermeyer is a Youth Volunteer with YVC of Calgary and a current member of the International Youth Advisory Board.
Even though Canada’s Thanksgiving celebrations came and went in October, we don’t get to escape any of November’s Black Friday madness. While Black Friday here doesn’t see quite the same level of frenzied bargain-hunting as our friends south of the border (we Canadians like to wait until Boxing Day on Dec 26th for the best sales), the annual crazed holiday consumerism has definitely set in. With that in mind, I find it’s especially important to think about giving back this time of year.
As you may know, the tradition of Black Friday has also evolved to include Cyber Monday, and, more recently, Giving Tuesday. As a volunteer, the values of Giving Tuesday come pretty naturally; giving time and donations to help others is something that YVC does a great job of cultivating. However, it’s also incredibly important to reflect upon the people that inspire us and make our impact as volunteers possible. That’s exactly why YVC started the Thank You Selfie initiative— it’s a campaign for volunteers say thank you to everyone that lends us support.
So to whom do I owe thanks? I could probably fill 10 blog posts with gratitude for all of the amazing YVC staff and volunteers in my life— both at my local Youth Central and those that I met at the YVC Summit this fall— but I’d like to pay particular attention to my YVC’s summer Team Leaders.
I’ve been involved with YVC of Calgary, hosted by Youth Central, for almost a year and a half now, but this past summer was when I really took my volunteering involvement to a new level. I volunteered more frequently and broadly than I ever had before, and this gave me the chance to really get to know some of the incredible Team Leaders. Many of the Team Leaders in Calgary are university students who volunteered at Youth Central in high school but have since left to study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, a city 3 hours away. Still, they come back each summer because they’re passionate about YVC and Calgary youth.
During projects, the Team Leaders are the ones that can make or break the sense of team, and their relentless passion and enthusiasm drive the whole group forward. Outside of volunteer shifts, however, the Team Leaders continue to make an impact. They’re constantly active on social media, sharing photos and stories from their projects and connecting with volunteers. They act as a role models for many of our volunteers and are always willing impart wisdom about university life and continuing with volunteerism past YVC. That being said, I wouldn’t say I view the Team Leaders as strictly superiors— I would consider many of them my friends, and I think many of my fellow volunteers would say the same.