Tuesday, 4 September 2012


It's been some years now since I had to worry about the back-to-school countdown, but I still feel like September means business.  Vacations are over, we trade in shorts and tank-tops for fall layers (okay, sometimes that doesn't happen until October) and all things new begin. 

I may not be in school anymore, but I had a back-to-school countdown this year too.  Now that you've had 2 days of classes I hope the old routine has come back to you.  For those of you making the jump to high school this year, don't stress, the routine comes.

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen our countdown that shared 10 tips for successful volunteer experiences.  If you don't (you should), we're sharing them again here:

Volunteer Tips

10. Think about what you want to gain from volunteering - new skills, fun, a chance to contribute to a cause?

9. Ask questions.  Don't be afraid to ask questions as you go through the process of applying for an opportunity or once you've started volunteering.

8. Think about what you have to offer.  This includes your skills, abilities, talents and attitude.

7. Don't be discouraged.  Remember that everyone can volunteer, whatever your skills, experience or background you will find an opportunity.

6. If you don't find an opportunity you're passionate about, create one!

5. Do more than just 40 hours.  Volunteering can be a great additional to a post-secondary application or resume.

4. Really look for an opportunity, don't wait for someone to hand it to you.  Use the Sarnia Gives Search Tool at www.sarniagives.com

3. Show up!  You've made a commitment and people are counting on you so be there.

2. Make sure you confirm with your school that an activity is eligible for your 40 hour credit before you start.  If it's not, it might still be worth doing.

1. Just try it!  The most difficult part of volunteering can be making the first move, so be brave!

In my day we didn't have to complete 40 hours of community involvement activities, we just volunteered because it was fun.  I know that for many of you those 40 hours seem like one more thing added to the list of things you already need to do, but I want to tell you that they are so much more.  You will meet new people, learn new things and have some great experiences that you can't have doing anything else.  I encourage you to do more than 40 hours if you can!

If you're not sure where to start or how to find a volunteer opportunity that you can be excited about, use the Sarnia Gives Search Tool to get started (that's tip 4).  Sarnia Gives is here to help you be successful any way we can so feel free to call, email, Facebook or Tweet us with your questions.

Welcome back to school & happy volunteering!!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cultural Diversity Training Day

Along with the Sarnia-Lambton Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), we're hoping to make it easier for local not-for-profit organizations to understand and appreciate diversity with a Cultural Diversity Training Day on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at Lambton Shared Services, Bayside Mall.

Our partnership with the Sarnia-Lambton LIP began last year to build a Newcomers and Immigrants Volunteer Program that would reach out to those people new to Sarnia-Lambton and encourage them to become involved in the community. This is an important program because our community has become more visibly diverse in recent years and it is vital that those new to the community feel welcome and have the opportunity to become engaged.  In addition to reaching out to residents the program will reach out to organizations so they can be aware of what to expect and how to handle possible barriers when dealing with residents new to Sarnia-Lambton and sometimes even Canada.

The Cultural Diversity Training is separated in to two sessions.  Christina Fanelli, MIR, BBA, will facilitate a morning training session entitled Valuing Differences: Diversity in the Workplace. This training will cover: Understanding and defining diversity; Developing awareness; Challenging assumptions and personal stereotypes and; Addressing sensitive and unfamiliar issues, developing coping skills. The morning session runs from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

The afternoon session will be facilitated by the Sarnia-Lambton LIP and Sarnia Gives. The presentation will include: Cultural competency worksheets and assessment tools; Information on local resources;  An overview of the Immigrant & Newcomer Volunteer Program and; A panel discussion with newcomer & immigrant volunteers and volunteer organizations.  The afternoon session runs from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Jeneane Fast, Social Researcher for the Sarnia-Lambton LIP says they are "very excited about our partnership with Sarnia Gives. The new program and this upcoming event directly align with our goal of creating a more diverse and welcoming Sarnia-Lambton that better reflects the changes happening in our community.”

To register for the training, visit www.sarniagives.com/pd-conference-cultural-diversity.html.  There is no cost to attend for Sarnia Gives member organizations.  For non-members, the morning or afternoon only is $15.00 or you can attend the full day for $25.00.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The End of ChangeTheWorld 2012

Well, we made it.  Sunday, May 6 marked the end of the very first Sarnia-Lambton ChangeTheWorld!

There are several thank-you's to be said, but none bigger than the thank you we're sending out to the youth volunteers who came out and participated in the campaign.  You guys are amazing!  You took the opportunity to be active in your community and give back.  I couldn't help but feel proud as a signed each of your participant certificates and put together your thank you's.  We hope that you'll share your volunteer experience with your friends and fellow students and encourage them to get involved as well.  Don't forget to complete your participant survey to be entered in a pretty cool draw for your chance to win  lots of great prizes.  If you missed the email with the link, we've got it for you right here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CTW2012_YouthParticipants

Thank you to the amazing partners at Starbucks Sarnia.  They are not only our Community Partners year-round, but they stepped up to become a part of the CTW 2012 campaign.  What an incredible job they did.  They were out at all four of our community garden builds to make sure our volunteers stayed hydrated and they never hesitated to picked up a shovel and make sure the project was finished.  They are a fantastic group of people and if you're in the shop be sure to thank them for the things they do for the Sarnia-Lambton community.  You can now follow them on Twitter at @SbuxSarnia

Thank you of course to all of our partners in this years ChangeTheWorld: the Sarnia Community Foundation, One Tomato Project, the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN), the Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration (MCI), our fearless leader, Armin, at Volunteer MBC and the 24 other communities that participated in this years 5th anniversary of CTW.  I am proud to be able to say I was a part of this with all of you and the entire team at Sarnia Gives is honoured to have been a part of ChangeTheWorld.


We had some struggles, but that was to be expected as a first time participant.  Those struggles aside, this campaign was a success.  Our community knows what ChangeTheWorld is now and we were able to share with our local youth the importance and benefits of volunteering.  ChangeTheWorld may be over for another year, but the chance to get involved isn't.  You can visit the Sarnia Gives website year-round and find vlunteer opportunities suited to your life-style and passions.

We're looking forward to ChangeTheWorld 2013 already!  If you have any ideas or are interested in volunteering for the campaign let us know with an email. And remember...

Together we can make a difference!  Together we can change the world!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My Volunteer Experience

Since National Volunteer Week has just passed and Sarnia Gives is about to wrap up ChangeTheWorld: Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge, the past three weeks were the perfect time to find an opportunity to get involved within the community. Volunteering shouldn’t be a chore and if you find the right place to get involved you can have fun doing so. I decided that sharing my own experience my encourage someone else to get out and do something.  I am in a sport related program at Lambton College, my passions includes sports and so my volunteer experiences have included sport.

During my first two years of high school I completed 100+ hours of coaching indoor and outdoor soccer within my small community. I really enjoyed teaching kids from 8-12 years old the fundamentals of the game.  I also volunteered for the local fair, setting up and taking down exhibits and also helped organize the event. I had a great experience volunteering and I encourage everyone to get involved with something that you truly enjoy because, at the end of the day, the opportunity is for your own benefit.

Now that I am in college, networking has been incredibly important to me. During my first day of class in my first year I signed up to volunteer for the Sarnia Sting. My job is to prepare and implement promotional items during the home games. The amount of people I have met in the industry has been incredibly helpful and has assisted me in learning the ropes. So volunteering can also be an educational experience for you to help develop skills that can be valuable in the future.

Food for thought - my course coordinator at Lambton College told my class the very first day that "the most important thing you can do is get involved, volunteer and network".  I didn't waste any time and it has really helped me out.  I encourage you to find a position that you like.  National Volunteer Week and ChangeTheWorld offer lots of opportunities, but there are opportunities year round, so go out there and help the community today!

Mike Willigenburg, Coop Student
Sarnia Gives 
Lambton College Sports and Recreation Administration Student

Mike hard at work at the Local Immigration Partnership Community Forum. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Giving Back with ChangeTheWorld: Weekend 1

Weekend one of ChangeTheWorld was awesome!  Check out the photos below of the great team of volunteers who joined the One Tomato Project at the new community garden at First Christian Reformed Church on the corner of Exmouth St. & Murphy Rd.

These volunteers put in more than 50 hours of work to turn what started as a a lawn into a sustainable garden.  This garden will provide vegetables to local food banks, the church parish and community members. 


If you want to be a part of something that will have a long-term, positive impact on the community, join us for weekend 2 of ChangeTheWorld this weekend.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Put Your Shovel Where Your Mouth Is

OK Sarnia-Lambton, ChangeTheWorld kicked-off 5 days ago and now our first big volunteer event is about to happen.  This weekend we're building not 1, but 2 community gardens.  Since it's also Earth Day on Sunday we thought we'd throw in the extra challenge of updating an existing garden as well. 

So, get your shovels, garden gloves, sneakers, camera, video camera and/or notepad ready and join the One Tomato Project and ChangeTheWorld to make a difference.  Keep reading to find out where we'll be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
First Christian Reformed Church, Murphy at Exmouth St., Sarnia

Sunday, April 22, 2012, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Happy Earth Day)
Lambton Meadowview Villa,  Petrolia
One Tomato Project Downtown Garden, Sarnia

Starbucks partners will be there volunteering to celebrate Global Month of Service and making sure everyone stays hydrated and refreshed.  For more information, or if you want to sign up in advance you can email Darren.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

2nd Annual Volunteer Showcase

Thank you again to all of the organizations, partners and community members who came out to our 2nd Annual Volunteer Showcase held on Tuesday at the Dante Club. As always, we are excited about any opportunity to promote volunteerism in Sarnia-Lambton and introduce volunteer opportunities to the community. 

 This year we were even more excited to have the Showcase be a part of ChangeTheWorld, in addition to National Volunteer Week. We invite all local high school students to become a part of ChangeTheWorld by participating in a Community Garden Build, blogging about volunteering or volunteering with any Sarnia-Lambton not-for-profit organization between April 15 - May 6, 2012.

If you missed the Showcase, you can always visit the Sarnia Gives website for up-to-date information on volunteering and available opportunities.

For more photos, visit our Facebook Album to see photos from the event and don't forget to visit www.sarniagives.com to find out more about the organizations that participated. 

Remember to take the time to celebrate National Volunteer Week by thanking local volunteers.