Every year, Algonquin celebrates students like Stacey Kelly, who dedicate their short amount of time at the college to tireless volunteerism during its annual commemorative gala.
Kelly, who is a former business administration-marketing student, made volunteerism a big part her college experience through volunteering on campus, with community projects, within her program, and even travelling oversees to participate in the Alternative Spring Break Trip.
“Everybody feels its their school, but I think it gave me a sense of pride to be here knowing I could do something in my community and not just within the Algonquin community,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s efforts resulted in her being awarded lasts year’s Volunteer of the Year award and made such an impression that she has plans on continuing her volunteer work post-grad.
“I’m looking for a permanent place to repeat volunteer now that I’ve graduated,” said Kelly.
This year, there has been influx of volunteers due to the launch of the AC Hub Volunteer Centre in October 2015, which increased the demand for volunteer opportunities.
The centre is run by Rox Chwaluk, the co-curricular and volunteerism coordinator and provides opportunities for students to volunteer on campus, within the community and internationally.
One of the center’s main undertaking is the community projects program where students travel to an off campus community organization in need to volunteer once a week.
“Our community projects have been selling out all year,” said Chwaluk. “We just released our last few for the semester and they’re pretty much all sold out.”
During the annual awards ceremony on March 29, the students participating in these events will be celebrated through the Community Impact Award, Dedication and Involvement Award, Outstanding Leadership Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award.
However, there are many changes in store for this year’s gala.
The event was previously called the Volunteer Awards Gala, but has now been changed to the Student Volunteer Gala in order to emphasize student volunteerism.
“We wanted to focus on the student part of it,” said Chwaluk. “We have these awards to recognize the great work students have done on or off campus in their respected communities, so its not just students that volunteer with our department, its students across the campus that are doing things and so its really a way to recognize volunteers.”
According to Ben Dinh, the events officer for the AC Hub, the gala will also have a new format this year. In previous years, the event was held in the Student Commons lobby and included a cocktail hour followed by a sit down dinner during which awards were distributed. The ceremony portion has now been moved the Commons theatre and attendees will be able to walk a red carpet and participate in a photo shoot in order to create a celebratory feel.
The launch of the volunteer center was one of the main catalysts for the changes, due to the need to accommodate more people than past years.
“The gala is our thank you to students for taking the time to volunteer on campus and in their communities, so we want to have as many of them there to celebrate as we can,” said Dinh.