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  • Derek Stoppels

The value of volunteering

Updated: May 3, 2019

One of the things I want to impress upon my students is the value of volunteering and the importance of being Globally Aware (I capitalized that last term because it's one of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's exit outcomes). But if I really want to make an impact on my students, I need to practice what I preach.


So this afternoon, right after school, I went to Dunrobin to help in the sandbag effort (see the pictures on my Instagram or Twitter accounts - links at the bottom). I wasn't able to get there until four thirty and the last shuttle was at six thirty, so two hours of moving sandbags was the best I could do, and I wish I could have done more.


Although we were filling sandbags in an effort to stave off flooding from the rising water levels (the city declared a state of emergency), it was a good time! While they had a lot of help already, I always love the feeling of being part of something much bigger than I am. It's so important to help out the community when ever you can, especially in the case of a natural disaster. As I was driving the the volunteer registration at the Dunrobin Community Centre, I saw some of the damage that the tornado had caused only a few months ago. I know the community would be there to help me out if I needed it, so it's important for me to help the community when I can.


My good buddy Cedric always says, "It's nice to be nice to the nice." And there is just something awesome about the feeling of knowing that you're doing something good for someone else. A selfless act is more infinitely more fulfilling than a selfish one. And I'm going to admit, it's a pretty cool feeling working shoulder to shoulder with the real heroes, our military service members.



In 2015, I volunteered at the PanAm games in Toronto (TO2015). It was an AMAZING experience! I was part of the "field of play" crew for the beach volleyball competition, and what a cool feeling it was to be so close to the action and be part of something so huge! I was a raker and ball retriever, which meant that I would rake the sand on the practice, warm-up and competition courts as well as retrieve balls on those courts as well. In order for the competition to run like a well oiled machine, we worked hard and efficiently.


The PanAm games is an international competition, and an Olympic qualifier for some sports, beach volleyball being one of them. For some of the athletes competing at the PanAm games, that was going to be the pinnacle of their career and I thought it was so amazing to get to be a part of their success. Also, I thought it was pretty awesome to be so close to Lake Ontario and have the CN Tower as the back drop to the competition. I also made a friend, Rick Pizzi (he's in my contact list as "PanAm Rick Pizzi")! He lives in Winnipeg, but thanks to social media (mainly WhatsApp) we can keep in touch. Also, none of this would have been possible without the help of Nick Burns, my best friend from teacher's college, for letting me stay at his place in Mississauga!


I love to volunteer. I really think the best thing you can do is give yourself to a cause that is bigger than yourself. You'll make yourself feel good about yourself by doing something good for someone else! Volunteering is a great way to build confidence, contribute to your community, become globally aware, develop resilience, improve collaboration skills, work on goal-setting and learn to come up with creative solutions to unique problems, if you can keep your eyes and ears open...it's like on-the-job training, but the "job" is real life! All while helping someone in need. What a great feeling!


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