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.

Monday, 16 April 2012

CTW Challenge Kick-Off

Well, it's finally here.  ChangeTheWorld has launched for the very first time in Sarnia-Lambton! 

We want to encourage all of you to get out there over these next 3 weeks and get involved.  All we're asking for is 3 hours of your time - and those 3 hours not only go to a good cause, but they count towards your community service credit.  If you can't give 3 hours, then give what you can!

This challenge is about more than just meeting a goal: it's about finding opportunities that interest you, leaning about what you can do for your community, becoming engaged citizens and, most important, it's about making a difference.

We had a great time kicking things off this morning with the partners at Starbucks on London Road.  They're doing double duty this month by celebrating ChangeTheWorld with us along with their own Global Month of Service. They'll be out volunteering and providing refreshments at all four of our Community Garden Builds this months so make sure you come out and join them.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


ChangeTheWorld is coming to Sarnia-Lambton for the very first time! Sarnia Gives & the Sarnia Community Foundation are proud to be able to bring the Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge to our community.  

The ChangeTheWorld – Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge is a campaign to encourage and increase youth volunteerism and to encourage and foster a life-long commitment to volunteering. This year there are 25 volunteer centers and organizations across Ontario who are participating. The initiative is a challenge for youth, ages 14 to 18 years, to get involved by volunteering and to be a force for change and for good in their local community.

During the campaign our goal is to reach 7,500 volunteer hours.  We're asking local youth to give just 3 hours of their time and be a part of this amazing challenge.

Check out our schedule of Community Garden Builds and volunteer with us, find an opportunity on the website or email us and let us know what you're already doing.

  • ChangeTheWorld: Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge Volunteer Celebration
    Tuesday, May 1, 2012 (details to come)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Finding the Right Opportunity

Sarnia Gives is about connecting people and organizations and we put a lot of thought in to how to do that. The searches that we came up with are the heart of our website, www.sarniagives.com.

Knowing that you can search for volunteer opportunities is a great thing, but having inside tips on how to make the search work to the best of its ability is even better. So, we’ve put together some instructions and tips for community members looking to give back to Sarnia-Lambton.

To find your ideal volunteer opportunity, you can utilize one of our two search methods:
  1. Use the Criteria Search to find opportunities based on Interests, Skills and Location within Lambton County. 
  2. Use the Map Search to find opportunities that are in your neighbourhood or close to school.
All opportunities listed on SarniaGives.com provide you with the basic volunteer requirements, a description of the position and contact information for the organization.

  • Go to www.sarniagives.com
  • Click on the “Opportunities” heading on the menu and select “Criteria Search”
  • Select the Interests, Skills and Locations that you are interested in
  • Once you have finished, click “Search”
  • Your results will be divided into categories based on the Search Criteria. The results you see at the top of the list are your best matches.
  • To view the details of an opportunity, click “View Opportunity”

  • Go to www.sarniagives.com 
  • Click on the “Opportunities” heading on the menu and select “Map Search” 
  • Input your address and the distance you are willing to travel 
  • Once you have finished, click “Submit Query” 
  • Your results will appear as pins on a map. If you hover over a pin it will show you the number of opportunities available at that location. Clicking on a pin will give you a preview of the opportunities. 
  • To view the details of an opportunity, click “View Opportunity”

Tips for Organizations

We want all of our Sarnia Gives members to have the best expereicne possible each and every time that they use the website so, we’ve put together some helpful tips for you.


Your profile is your first impression.
  • Highlight the work your organization does and the causes that you support
  • Give complete information.
  • Keep your information up-to-date


When a community member completes a criteria search they are matched with organizations that are looking for someone with those same criteria.
  • Don’t forget to provide a title, this is the first thing people will see in the search results
  • Use the description to give details about the opportunity rather than the organization
  • Always make sure you review the Skills, Interests & Location categories and check that the criteria you’ve selected relates to the opportunity

  • You can login or access your profile from anywhere on the site using the options at the top right of the screen
  • Links to tools, resources or other websites will open in a new tab or window for you
  • The scrolling menu you see on the home page is on the bottom of all other pages 

If there’s something we’ve missed or you have a tip you would like to share, leave it in the comments section or email us at info@sarniagives.com.

The New Recruiter Tools

We held our very first Professional Development Session on Monday, November 14, 2011 at the Imperial Theatre - NOVA Room. We discussed Social media and how it can be used as a means of not only promoting your organization, but to help recruit volunteers.

If you missed the session, you can still view the Social Media and Volunteer Recruitment Presentation from MindBridge Strategies.

We look forward to seeing you at our next session….

Why Register as a Volunteer

It makes sense that organizations logging on to Sarnia Gives would register so that they can post their volunteer opportunities, but why should you register as a volunteer if you’re a member of the community?
When you register with SarniaGives.com, your search criteria are saved for each time you log in to the site. Your profile will always display the opportunities that match your search criteria under the “My Opportunities” heading, saving you the time of completing a search each time you want to view volunteer opportunities.

As the website grows, registering will also mean that you can sign up for our quarterly newsletter or sign-up for the emergency volunteer list and be contacted when an organization has a volunteer shortage and there is not enough to post the opportunity.

  • Go to www.sarniagives.com 
  • Click on the “Register” link next to the Sarnia Gives logo in the upper right hand corner of the page
  • Click on the “Volunteer” option
  • Complete the registration form with your information and click the “Submit” button
  • Once you have registered, use the instructions below to login to your profile and update your information

  • Go to www.sarniagives.com
  • Click on the “Login” link next to the Sarnia Gives logo in the upper right hand corner of the page
  • Enter your Username (email address) and Password
  • You have the option of checking off the “Remember Me” box so you will not be required to enter your Username and Password each time you visit the site. If you use a shared computer, we do not suggest this option.
  • Click the “Login” button 

The first time that you login in to the site you will set your search criteria.

To Edit your profile:
  • Click the “Edit Profile” link next to your name
  • Select the Interests, Skills and Locations that you are interested in
  • Once you have finished, click “Save”

  • Login to the Sarnia Gives site following the steps above
  • Click the “Edit Profile” link next to your name
  • Select the Interests, Skills and Locations that you are interested in
  • Once you have finished, click “Save”

If you have questions or need assistance you can always email us at info@sarniagives.com

Welcome to Sarnia Gives!

Welcome to Sarnia Gives! We are your volunteer centre for Sarnia-Lambton, dedicated to helping community members learn about volunteer opportunities that best suit their lifestyle and providing a place for not-for-profit and charitable organizations to promote their current volunteer opportunities.
SarniaGives.com is the THE place for community members to find volunteer opportunities in Sarnia-Lambton and learn about volunteering.  We also aim to have the most up-to-date resources for our member organizations and post information about upcoming Professional Development session.  The Sarnia Gives blog is the place to find out what’s new.  We’ll always keep you informed about what we’re working on, what’s happening in the not-for-profit sector locally and around the world and we’ll look for your input on what we can do to serve you better.
We have a great team at Sarnia Gives and we all look forward to sharing our work and our passion with you.
Samantha Scimmi
Coordinator, Sarnia Gives