Purpose is rooted in Passion: Join the Cause
The seed was planted in Winter 2019. Stars for Sheltered Youth sprouted from the hopeful minds of a group of University of Calgary students. They wanted to make a difference and bridge the gap between underprivileged youths and their right to an education. Over the past few months, the team has expanded from five members to over 176 volunteers (and counting!). Focusing on youths is the most important aspect of the organization as they provide tutoring and mentorship opportunities for underserved youths in the community and wellness events for the wellbeing of the volunteers.
Nikhil Shah was excited to share his experience with the organization so far in hopes of encouraging many others to join the SSY cause.
“I really did want to get involved since I was always involved in high school sports. I got really busy my first year and COVID kind of took a lot of that freedom away,” he said when asked about why he joined the organization. “When I saw this opportunity, I thought it’d be great to try something new, get a different experience. I thought this would be a great opportunity to enhance my skills and help out someone in the process.”
Like Nikhil, many of the organization’s volunteers are involved in other activities. SSY encourages consistent communication and flexibility for the volunteers. However, time management is a great concern for both parties involved. He said, “Just be prepared for anything.” After every session, volunteers are required to submit a report talking about what they did during their weekly session. Nikhil also takes notes on how his partner is doing and plans out future sessions based on those notes. He also recommends contacting the student’s parents to build trust and a great partnership foundation.
The SSY prides themselves with building connection and partnership among youths. Though the organization does not require prior experience, it is beneficial to hone in on social skills. Nikhil feels the same way. “I think you need to have patience and you need to be a little bit inclined in what you are tutoring.” He continues on by emphasizing that, “it's not necessarily about being smart, it's just having a bit of a passion for what you're doing and knowing what you're doing and willing to learn as well.”
Youth volunteering requires one special skill: passion. Nikhil has had previous experience through coaching. This encouraged him to seek out other volunteering opportunities. “It's really nice when I see the progress or what I get when I connect with the kids. It just feels good. It also reminds me of when I was younger, when I had really nice coaches and tutors.”
In terms of the SSY, Nikhil believes that tutors and mentors learn as much as they teach. “I learned that some kids might be on a different level. This was great because it challenged me and allowed me to find new methods that make sense for the both of us.” He added that getting to work with someone who is willing to listen and learn helped him expand his ability to communicate and empathize.
“It gave me an opportunity to look at things in a different way. Tutoring helped me find new ways to find a solution and taught me to slow down and take time to solve a problem.”
With so many volunteers signing up and organizations partnering with the SSY, Nikhil encourages his peers to join and gain experience, leadership skills, personal growth, and other skills that “can help them in the rest of their life whether dynamically or in a job.” True to Nikhil’s words, this is a “different experience” that offers more than just tutoring.
With hopeful hearts,
The SSY Team