As with all SWDCRS events, staff are always listening to the needs identified by communities so those ideas can be turned into new training opportunities.
After many months of planning and preparation, the South West District for Culture, Recreation & Sport (SWDCRS) formed a partnership with the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council (MJMC) and Moose Jaw Newcomer Welcome Centre to offer their first Linking Organizations to Newcomer Volunteers Workshop.
At the SWDCRS’ first Friends Around the Table meeting - a networking event for individuals from both the cultural and recreation fields - the idea of targeting Newcomers as volunteers was identified as a common interest. As with all SWDCRS events, staff are always listening to the needs identified by communities so those ideas can be turned into new training opportunities.
The SWDCRS approached MJMC and the Moose Jaw Newcomer Welcome Centre to request their assistance, experience and expertise working with Newcomers for the project. Over the course of many months and many meetings, the idea of targeting Newcomers as a new volunteer base morphed into the Linking Organizations to Newcomer Volunteers Workshop that took place in Moose Jaw on November 16, 2016.
Together, the partners decided to offer training targeted to organizations looking to engage Newcomer volunteers, as well as Newcomers looking to volunteer. The workshop took place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with the morning focusing on sessions for volunteers about ‘What is Volunteerism’ and ‘How to Use Volunteerism to Prepare for Employment’, and sessions for organizations on ‘How to Engage Newcomers.’ A lunch and learn on human rights followed. The afternoon included small and large group discussions for volunteers and organizations to network, to discuss opportunities they were seeking and to learn what opportunities were available.
The Linking Organization to Newcomer Volunteers Workshop was researched, developed and facilitated entirely by the workshop partners. The sessions were informative - with interactive presentations that provided opportunities for engagement. Hosting the event at the Moose Jaw Newcomer Welcome Centre provided a comfortable and familiar setting for the Newcomers to participate.
Workshop feedback indicated the event was successful for both volunteers and organizations. “This workshop helped me to be sensitive to cultural difference and helped me recognize personal similarities across cultures. We all gain when we are open to diversity,” said Ed Koop, Stage Manager of RuBarb Productions. The same was true for volunteer Ahmed Alkhaldi, a Mechanical Engineer from Syria, who said, “I feel positive, more willing to do volunteer work. I want to volunteer more.”
The partner organizations were pleased with the outcome of the project. The SWDCRS will use this experience, what we have learned and the evaluations to make a 2017 Swift Current workshop even bigger and better.
Follow us at www.gosouthwest.ca for more details!
The Linking Organizations to Newcomer Volunteers Workshop was partially funded by the SPRA Leadership Development Grant.
This article was previously featured in the Spring 2017 issue of DIRECTION Magazine, "Supportive Environments". Original publication date: March 2017.
Shawna Olson and Marian Campbell
SWDCRS Community Development Coordinators