Portrait of a Youth Volunteer

Youth volunteer, Turquoise Chiang, is a powerhouse in our community and is hoping other youth follow in her helpful footsteps. Here is her fascinating story:

Please let us know a bit about yourself—age, school and what you like to do.

I am 17 years old and in grade 12 at Esquimalt High school. I really enjoy reading: some of my favourite authors are Donna Tartt, Mona Awad and J.D. Salinger. I love to paint and draw, as well as go on walks and hikes throughout the island.

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How did you get started with volunteering? How old were you?

Because of the pandemic, I didn’t get involved with volunteering as early as I would have liked. Nonetheless, the first time I volunteered was when I was 14 years old. It was a super positive experience at Vic West Community Centre. They were holding a holiday event that I heard about through my school, so some friends and I decided to sign up. It was very relaxed, we set up decorations, played with little kids and handed out hot chocolate.

Do you volunteer with friends? family?

Yes! Throughout my life, my dad has always volunteered so much of his time to coach both mine and my sister’s sports teams. When I was in grade 10, I helped him as an assistant coach for Lansdowne Middle School’s girls volleyball team. It was really neat because I was able to help younger kids build foundational skills for the game as well as develop a strong sense of sportsmanship.

Please list the places you have volunteered with and are currently with.

I have volunteered at Capital City Comic Con, Vic West Community Centre and Lansdowne Middle School. I am currently volunteering weekly with the City of Victoria Youth Council.

Do you have an awesome or unique experience while volunteering that you can share?

Recently with The City of Victoria Youth Council, we fundraised for and participated in the Coldest Night of the Year walk which is self-described as “a winterrific family-friendly 2 or 5 km fundraising walk in support of local charities serving people experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness.” It was a wonderful experience, we listened to some excellent stories and speeches, warmed up with some upbeat music and went on a really beautiful walk throughout the city. It was impactful seeing how many people participated and came together for the more vulnerable members of our community.

What do you think is the best way to get other youth involved with volunteering?

I think more organizations need to cater to youth if that is the demographic they are hoping to attract. There are so many of my peers who simply do not know about all the volunteering opportunities out there. Promoting in meaningful ways as well as sincerely valuing our time goes a long way.

What do you like to see (training, leadership, management, etc) when you start volunteering at a new place?

When volunteering at a new place, it can feel daunting. It is really important for the people in management to be friendly and approachable. It is also critical to have regimented training and resources you can rely on to gain the knowledge and experience to be effective.

What is your favourite part about volunteering?

My favourite part of volunteering is all the amazing connections you form. I have met so many new people, made so many friends and been exposed to so many things I otherwise would not have been if it wasn’t for my volunteer work. That is one of the reasons I encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering; it opens up your whole world.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experiences, or any further advice regarding volunteering?

I encourage anyone with the ability to volunteer to get involved. There are so many different opportunities that there really is something for everyone. Volunteering is extremely important for thriving communities and it is so rewarding!

Erika Palmer
Erika Palmer
Erika Palmer is a writer living in Victoria with her husband and daughter. She believes most problems can be solved with a good cup of tea and a huge piece of chocolate.