Student Gains Experience and Fulfillment by Volunteering

New volunter gains experience and fulfillment at The Salvation Army
by Alberta

Months into her volunteer experience with The Salvation Army, Camille Cunningham still has a hard time wrapping her head around the scope of the organization she has joined.

“I didn’t realize it has such a long, rich history. As well, the huge range of programs, and not only just to combat homelessness, but feeding families and working with children and vulnerable persons of every shape, kind, and color all over the world. I didn’t realize it was such a huge organization. Honestly, it is astounding to me still.”

Camille is a post-secondary student who decided to sign up as a volunteer after attending a volunteer fair. “The values The Salvation Army holds are good ones. About commitment to the community and just combatting homelessness and improving the lives of people in Calgary. It seemed like a good fit.”

She volunteers twice a week for a total of about five hours, meeting with clients who have been ordered by the courts to do community service. Camille conducts interviews, helps fill out the paperwork, and gives a general orientation.

“Someone came in last week and one of the first things he said to me after we were done was I called five organizations and this was the only one that returned my call. He just wanted to get this part of his life that he was embarrassed about over with. And he was just very glad that The Salvation Army was available to help him do that. I see a lot of people with similar stories.”

Camille found the volunteer orientation simple, but thorough. A three-hour session provided a quick history of the Salvation Army as well as a run-down of all the programs. Next, a one-on-one interview helped determine where Camille would spend her time, and she found the community services program was a good fit with her interest in pursuing a career in the field of social justice.

“It’s a very fulfilling thing. I am glad to be doing it. And it’s good for me professionally to have a position such as this. Getting some practical experience doing one-on-one interviews has been an asset to my personal development. It has helped prepare me for finding a position in the future. Personally, there is a sense of accomplishment to be able to close the file so another person is through the process and can move on with their life.”

“Giving back to the community feels good. I am pretty new to Calgary and it is important to engage myself in the community, especially because I did feel like an outsider coming from such a small rural community. Helping with The Salvation Army has helped integrate me into the Calgary community a little more than I otherwise might have been.”