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Rogers Volunteer Spotlight: Chris SanJuan

September 16, 2016

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Written by: Chris SanJuan, E2E Services Planning & Governance
Charity Name: United Way

What made you get involved in the Rogers Employee Volunteer Program?
One of my team members suggested that my team should volunteer for United Way for our volunteer day. We chose the program because it gave us the opportunity to not only volunteer as a team, but also have direct interaction with the people we want to help in our community. Collectively, we could relate to the program since most of my team members were new immigrants at one time, and some of us have very young families.

What did you do for your day-of-giving and did anyone join you?
My team volunteered for United Way’s “Day of Caring” Event in Mississauga, ON.  The event was held at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in May and was organized by the Newcomer Centre of Peel, who focus on caring for newly arrived Middle Eastern Families. The agenda included two workshops on Mental Health Awareness, and Positive Parenting and was attended by 70 adults and 55 children.

Tell us what your day was like!
We helped the organizers set up the event, welcomed the attendees as they arrived and helped their children get organized so they could play on the trampolines. My team took care of the children while their parents were attending the workshops.  Most of the children did not speak English, so it helped that some people from my team spoke Arabic. What made the day special was when we spent time playing with the kids. Even though most of the kids can’t understand English, we coloured, played board games, sang and danced, and played on the trampolines.

What was your favourite moment during your volunteer experience?
My favourite parts of the day included playing board games and basketball with the children, learning tips on parenting, singing and dancing, and watching the kids as they bounced around on the trampolines.  Prior to the volunteer day, my team and I collected donations from the department. All the funds collected were used to buy coloring/activity books, coloured pens, and candies for the kids.  We distributed these gifts to the kids shortly before the session ended, and the children were very happy to have something to bring home. Watching how happy the gifts made them was truly rewarding.

Did you take away anything valuable from the experience?
I learned that helping others made us stronger as a team, and more sensitive to the current needs of the community. We also learned that fun and caring are part of a universal language that any age and nationality can understand.  I want to thank my colleague, Udari Basnayaka, for suggesting and arranging the volunteering day for our team, and I want to thank my team for the energy and caring shared to the new Middle Eastern families, as they adjust to their life here in Canada.  Thanks to Rogers and my department (E2E Services Planning & Governance) for the support and the contribution for the gifts.  We can’t wait for the next one!