When I moved to Ottawa this past summer, I knew very few people in the city and was unsure about how I was going to fit in to my new community. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life, so I knew that volunteering in Ottawa was how I wanted to get to know the city and meet new people.
I was drawn to Bruce House for two reasons. One was the role the organization has played for so many years in supporting people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in Ottawa. Even as a newcomer, it didn’t take long for me to realize what an important and special place Bruce House occupies in peoples’ lives, and that how people are supported makes an even bigger impression than what support is offered. The second reason I was drawn to Bruce House was the way they talk about their volunteers. To know that volunteers are not only valued but seen as part of the team – not just free help – makes all the difference when you step in to your shift or take on a project. Everyone at Bruce House is so intentional about making sure it’s a place where everyone feels they belong and have value. This really speaks to me and reminds me so much of the organization I used to work at back home.
For the last several months I’ve been supporting Bruce House in fund development, researching different opportunities for grants and finding out which ones will best help Bruce House continue to do their amazing work. It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to share some of my skills and receive encouragement and trust from everyone here. This winter I also began helping with preparations for Bruce House’s upcoming community forum on HIV, rehabilitation and episodic illness. It is the first time Bruce House has put on an event like this, so it’s been exciting to be a part of it and see all the work taking place behind the scenes. I’ve had the opportunity to plan and create social media content to promote the forum and get people excited about attending. Once again, I have so appreciated the team at Bruce House who encourage and support me to take on new projects and try out new ideas. I’m learning so much through my research on our partners and community resources. It has really opened my eyes about the different questions and considerations HIV/AIDS raises about health, community and social justice.
My time as a volunteer at Bruce House has been fantastic and has meant a lot to me. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many people through this amazing family, and it has made all the difference in making me feel like a part of my new community. It’s been gratifying to make a small contribution to Bruce House and support the incredible work they do, but I know that I have gotten back so much more in return. Thank you for being a place that I and so many others look forward to coming to each week.
This profile first appeared in Bruce House Chronicle, the volunteer newsletter.