Volunteering Opportunities – Update Jan 2015

Are you looking for real volunteering opportunities where you will have access to great training, awesome staff and be able to contribute to the well-being of others in the community?

Do you speak a second language?

Check out these opportunities:

New! Library Champions: http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=03d4024fbd8ce46600af980c4&id=2aa065edf7&e=ace42de19e

Interpreter (Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management Team): http://www.redcross.ca/volunteer/who-is-needed/disaster-management-interpreter–lower-main-land

Vancouver Crisis centre: http://crisiscentre.bc.ca/volunteer/ (phone line volunteers)

Childminders, board directors, career mentors and much more at various organizations through AMSSA (check at the bottom and after “Employment Opportunities”): http://www.amssa.org/jobs

Volunteers in the Health Care and NGO sector (various positions): http://www.fraserhealth.ca/about_us/get-involved/volunteer/

Various jobs and volunteering positions in the food/sustainability field: http://www.foodwork.ca/ and: http://www.goodwork.ca/

City of Surrey Volunteers: http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/6028.aspx


Good to know:

  • Volunteering can help you to gain work experience, good references and skills
  • Volunteering can expand your networks, be a window to a different career and keep you busy doing good to others
  • Volunteering is the best way to invest your time if you are unemployed and have been out of the labour market for a long time, are changing careers or moving to a different country where you don’t know people
  • Volunteering can help you to develop your language and social skills. If English is your second language, it will help you improve. You will also learn about “soft skills” (culturally different ways to relate to others and behave that imply differences in hierarchy, non-verbal communication, etc.)
  • As the recruiting process for serious volunteering positions is very similar to that of getting a job, you’ll have the opportunity to learn and practice without stress


  • Volunteering is similar to signing up for a new job: you are expected to take the commitment, training, etc as in any new job
  • You have the same or more responsibility to show your commitment, skills and attitude, because if you don’t (for example, if you don’t show up, are not punctual, not professional, not ethical, etc.) you won’t get god references

What to look for:

  • Volunteer ONLY for non-profit organizations and groups
  • Research the organization and the position before applying: volunteer where your values and goals match with those of the organization!
  • Make sure you understand the commitment, expectations, schedules, roles, etc. Clarify any doubts in during your interview
  • Good volunteering opportunities usually have a well-developed job description and mention what you are getting in exchange
  • Check the organization’s location and meet the team: you need to feel welcomed and engaged; do not volunteer if you perceive discrimination, lack of respect for your time, skills and value, disorganized teams, abuse, etc.

Some last notes:

  • Volunteering is required by most college and university careers in Canada in the social services, education, health and related fields: public institutions have a minimum of 20-80 hours of volunteering experience as a requirement to be eligible to apply for their programs. Some private institutions ask for the same.
  • Volunteering benefits those whit job targets in the Education, Social services, and Psychology or Health care services. However, anybody benefits from volunteering experience in general as what you gain is much more than what you “invest”.
  • For-profit organizations such as businesses and private companies, private colleges, etc. shouldn’t be asking for volunteers as they make a profit. If you do accept a “volunteer” position in one of these places, make sure you are not being used/abused.
  • You can leave a volunteer position at any time if you get a job or just change your mind. However, be responsible: if you leave without giving them some heads up and thanking them, you may not get very good references.
  • Some volunteering positions are very clear about the minimum period of time you need to volunteer in order to get a reference.
  • Some volunteering positions require that you work from home, over the phone or on your own after being trained and you may not be in contact with your team or coordinator: for these positions, you have to be very independent and responsible.
  • Some volunteer positions require only a few hours a week.
  • Volunteer positions that last just one day (i.e. for an event) may not provide references (check first!)

Note: I have volunteer for many years in Canada and abroad. I currently volunteer for the ESS (Emergency Social Services) team at City of Surrey; the Food Action Coalition of Surrey/White Rock and a Disaster Management/Emergency Preparedness and First Aid facilitator/trainer for DM at the Canadian Red Cross. I am also part of various local boards such as the Surrey Board of Trades and the local Transition group (Village Surrey). I offer Emergency Preparedness and Introduction to permaculture/Gardening and Food Preservation workshops to community groups.

Volunteering is part of my life and who I am and has allowed me to meet amazing people, be trained at incredible levels and skills and participate in awesome projects in the community.

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