As part of experiential programming, the English Language Program (ELP) offers students the unique opportunity to interact with the community through participating in various engaging volunteering events. Every Wednesday afternoon, a large group of interested students gathers for a volunteer meeting. During this meeting, students are presented with a variety of upcoming activities which are outlined for them in detail. Once informed of the responsibilities that each one entails, students are then asked to sign up for events that interest them. Certain events are more appropriate for English PLUS students, while others are more suitable for Academic English students. Our students are so enthusiastic to join in these efforts to give back to the community that often, the number interested in participating in these events exceeds the number of available spots. In such cases, a draw takes place to determine which individuals can participate in the events.
The kind of volunteering events that ELP students participate in can be broadly divided into two categories: regular events and seasonal events. The regular events occur weekly as a part of our successful and lengthy relationship with certain, non-for profit organizations in the city including Evergreen Brickworks, Foodshare and the Scott Mission. These events provide students with hands-on experience in giving back to the community while at the same time providing them with an opportunity to cultivate their knowledge and practice of the English language. At the Evergreen Brickworks, students typically assist with the Garden Circle during all parts of the gardening process, from weeding and planting to taking care of the plants and finally harvesting the produce. At Foodshare, ELP students help with the sorting and packaging of fresh produce, thus helping Foodshare achieve its mission of making healthy food accessible and affordable for everyone in the city. At the Scott Mission, students help serve food to the less fortunate, additionally helping out with the clothing bank. During the school year, ELP students also regularly help out with Blakestreet Public School’s breakfast program, and help ensure that these elementary school students have a healthy and nutritious start to their day. For all of these weekly events, students make the effort to wake up extra early in the morning in order to make time in the day to volunteer before the start of their classes. Now that’s true dedication!
Aside from these weekly events, students also engage in other seasonal volunteering opportunities. During the fall and winter, ELP students are presented with opportunities to volunteer by selling 50/50 lottery tickets for sports organizations like Jays Care, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and Smilezone; half of all proceeds from these lottery sales go to charitable causes such as supporting recreational sports teams for less fortunate children in the community. These events are great because not only do students get to practice their English, they also get to witness the city’s sports teams, like the Blue Jays, the Raptors and the Maple Leafs, in action!
Paulina Pernalete, is an ELP student with an outstanding record of more than 70 volunteering hours, who continued to participate in volunteering events even after she finished her course at the ELP. She describes her volunteering experience as follows: “Volunteering at ELP is really what made me feel more extroverted and confident in my speaking abilities. When you volunteer, you get to meet some amazing people who are willing to help you and you help them at the same time. By the end of the day, it is a win-win situation! It also helps you to keep improving your English during and after you finish your studies at ELP, it is a huge opportunity that you cannot miss! You’ll have so much fun!”
Interested in volunteering with the ELP? Come to our weekly meeting, Wednesdays at 5:00pm.