“It’s not like you have to go out and invent your own volunteer program,” says November’s Youth of the Month, Amy Bains. It isn’t about the recognition or the large groups to volunteer with, or even the large fundraisers to travel across the world and volunteer her time over there. Although these are of course appealing volunteer opportunities, Amy looks at volunteering with a new approach. Being at Kwantlen Polytechnic University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Criminology, all the while working her way through it as a Customs Broker and playing soccer full time on a Division one team, Amy shows that you CAN make a difference if you’re determined to do so!
It started in high school where Amy found herself volunteering wherever she could find an opportunity. She partook in PE Leadership where volunteering was a focus, especially organizing the Community Christmas Dinner for the less fortunate. If there was a volunteer opportunity available, Amy was always sure to find it. However, once graduation rolled around, the inevitable occurred…the real world set in and she figured there wouldn’t be time to continue her voluntary service when the University life style and University homework came about. Nonetheless she made a conscious effort to be who [she] was in high school and not loser [herself] in the big University world. Proudly today she can say she succeeded in this goal.
With hopes of becoming a counsellor, Amy finds herself spending her free time, or even creating time, to volunteer with a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD) program called Totally Beautiful that was created just over a year ago. This program is based around working with girls who are enduring the hardships associated with FASD. However, as Amy puts it, it’s based around friendship and helping eachother. So it’s far from a typical volunteer job where there is a clear distinction between the helper and helpee. Through this program Amy has been able to achieve so much herself. Working with these beautiful girls, helping them improve their self image, their presence in social situations and their focus on life values has also taught Amy and her fellow volunteers a lot. â€œIt seems like our generation didn’t really learn a lot about values-our parents learned it and it seems to have skipped ours, Amy points out. Through Totally Beautiful Amy can honestly say she leaves each week learning something new.
The beauty of this program is that as much as it has helped those with FASD grow it has helped change the perspective on life for the volunteers. The birth of Totally Beautiful seemed to parallel a time in Amy’s life where everything seemed to be falling apart; a time in her life where she only found true happiness in soccer. But, once she joined the Totally Beautiful team she felt it was the first time in a long time she had a reason to smile and it was truly the life altering experience she needed to change her approach to life as a whole. “Working with girls who [for the most part] don’t have a constant parent or person in their life other than you is an eye opener,” Amy humbly points out.
Amy Bains is an ideal example of a woman on a mission! She has her goals in mind for her future, she works full time to fulfill those goals, attends school, keeps sane by playing soccer, yet still makes time to give back and learn a thing or two while she’s at it. “You can find opportunities to help as long as you take time out of your schedule” are words of a busy woman who refuses to deny herself the opportunity to help others. She said it best, you don’t have to go out there and invent a new program, travel half way across the world to make a difference, all you have to do is find a little bit of spare time to give back and make a difference!
*Totally Beautiful has a women’s group and has recently started a men’s group as well and is always looking for volunteers. If anyone is interested they are welcome to contact the program coordinator Sarah Phillips @ firstname.lastname@example.org