Over 8,000 volunteers across Ontario support Children’s Aid Societies in their work with vulnerable children and families. Meet some of the people behind this volunteer powerhouse.

Children’s Aid Societies are independent, community-based organizations that rely heavily on volunteers to do their work. Every year over 8,000 individuals offer kindness, talent, energy, and hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer time to vulnerable children, youth, and families in the province. “We need to celebrate and support our volunteers because they are an essential part of the team that provides services that are going to help children and families get to a better place,” says Nicola Harris, Senior Policy Analyst at OACAS.

Meet some of the mentors, drivers, and homework club leaders who lift their CASs and communities.

Nicola Harris

Title:

OACAS Senior Policy Analyst leading provincial volunteer strategy

Volunteer Goal:

Our Provincial Volunteer Administrator Working Group is trying to bring a consistent approach to volunteering to Children’s Aid Societies across the province. Child welfare is bringing standardized best practices to agencies across the province and how we work with volunteers should be no different. We have so many treasures among the volunteers, and we are hoping to leverage this talent and commitment as much as we can.

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Victoria Marchetta

Location/Agency:

Toronto, Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

Volunteer Position:

Homework club volunteer coordinator. I help run a weekly after-school homework club for five children at the Children’s Aid Society with the help of five volunteer high school and university students. We prepare a meal and feed the children and then we help them do their homework. If no homework has been assigned, we will print out worksheets to help them work on core skills. We always wrap it up with a game.

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Tavari Wheatle

Location/Agency

Toronto, Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

Volunteer Position

Mentor. Over the past three years I have acted as a mentor to young Black males. I take them out once or twice a month and give them an experience, some laughs, and a break from what they are dealing with.

I think it’s super important for these boys to have an older male presence – kids are like sponges. By spending time with an older black male, I am helping give them an image of what it means to be a black male teenager, so that they are not just getting it from the media. They get to see how I am and how I treat them.  I feel like I am planting a seed so they have multiple options to go from and can take different paths or see themselves in different way, and maybe become mentors themselves one day.

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Peter Valtins

Location/Agency

Haileybury, Northeastern Ontario Family and Child Services

Volunteer Position

Driver. I drive kids, teenagers, mothers and fathers, sometimes to appointments, sometimes for visits. Transportation in the north is not like in Toronto. You can’t just get on a bus. Sudbury is two and a half hour drive away, but if you did it by bus it would take all day. This weekend I am driving a youth 220 km back to the facility where he is staying in Timmins after he visits with his mother here for the weekend. The farthest I have driven as a volunteer is to Windsor.

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Judy Townsend

Location/Agency:

Hamilton, Hamilton CAS

Volunteer position:

Driver, holiday hamper volunteer

I volunteer as a driver four times a week, up to 2,200 km a month. I mostly drive children to appointments and supervised access visits. I also drive them to school, because we want them to stay in the school where they started, which may not be close to where the foster parent lives. At Christmas I help to fill holiday hampers, you know - with 60 pairs of size 6 pajamas. I’ll try to get discounts from stores. That takes a bit of courage.

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