It has been an amazing first year of existence for the St. Mary’s University President’s Volunteer Team, an initiative borne of the idea that as a community united, St. Mary’s students, faculty and staff can work alongside those in need while coordinating charitable volunteer efforts and increasing the scope and impact that these endeavours would have on the community.

This year alone the President’s Volunteer Team has helped to make a home for a deserving family with Habitat for Humanity; raised money in support of the WE Day benefit concert – which raises money to build and support schools in Kenya and China; cooked and served meals to the hungry at the Mustard Seed; sent over 100 volunteers to Our Lady Queen of Peace Ranch Christmas party to help make the day special for children and their families; walked in support of The Coldest Night of the Year which raises money for the homeless and cooked a nutritious and delicious meal for the families at the Ronald McDonald House.

“Volunteering in our community is a wonderful opportunity for our students to work alongside and learn from the vulnerable people in the world,” said Nancy Quan, who as Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary’s University, has also played a large part in helping to organize President’s Volunteer Team initiatives and coordinate volunteers.

“We have had the opportunity to learn from those who are hungry, settling into their new country and those who are caring for their critically ill children. When we make time to hear their stories, we can’t help but be changed.”

The response from the St. Mary’s community regarding the President’s Volunteer Team initiative was perhaps more than could have been imagined, with over 100 students, staff and faculty members offering their time over the course of the year.

“Our students, staff and faculty at St. Mary’s are remarkable,” said Quan. “When we volunteer at different agencies, all we ask of them is to show up and be themselves and that’s when the magic seems to happen.”

“When we debrief on the way home after the volunteer events, I was always so truck by their gratefulness at being given the opportunity to give their time.”

Social justice and commitment to the community is at the very core of everyone at St. Mary’s, and going forward the President’s Volunteer team will take the knowledge gained over this past year of service and apply it towards new opportunities.

“We have learned in our first year of the PVT that we don’t need to be perfect, what really matters is that we show up and how we show up,” explained Quan. “We will continue to trust in the goodness of our students and simply provide them with the opportunities to engage people in the community. It has been my honour to work and serve alongside our students, staff and faculty.”