As Brampton Library’s Volunteer Supervisor, I am privileged both to mentor and learn from our wonderful volunteers. During these times, the Library has embraced new ways for our youth volunteers to grow personally and academically, as they have reflected in the essays that they have written below.
It is my pleasure to recognize and thank all of our volunteers for their enthusiasm and creativity. Their individual value and the power of their collective efforts enriches our organization in countless ways. On behalf of Brampton Library Board Members and Staff, thank you to our volunteers!
Essays by our Youth Volunteers:
Throughout the pandemic, I have been spending time volunteering with Brampton Library. Not only did I enjoy my experience with Brampton Library during the pandemic, it has also proven to be exceptionally beneficial. From my past volunteering experience with Brampton Library, I have learned various values that have played a vital role in my growth and development as an individual. A few examples of these values include the importance of being a part of a community, fulfilling your commitments, maintaining a healthy balance between work and life, the power of knowledge, the strength of teamwork, as well as the significance of optimism and positivity in life.
Through my volunteering experience with Brampton Library, I feel as though I have received an outlet for my voice, through which I am able to express my own opinion as well as educate myself on the opinions and perspectives of others on a variety of issues and topics. Furthermore, the extraordinary group of volunteers at Brampton Library has created a community in which we support one another, especially during these unfortunate times. Additionally, by volunteering with the Library during the pandemic, I have connected with like-minded individuals, each with strong minds, unique personalities, varying stances on different issues, and a drive to create a better future.
Truthfully speaking, by volunteering with Brampton Library, I feel as though I have become one of several individuals who intend to leave a positive impact on humanity and lead mankind into making a difference, from ceasing all forms of racism to ending any application of discrimination based upon gender, to terminating numerous other issues present within society today, I, like countless others, hope to bring a positive difference to tomorrow’s society in my lifetime.
Thank you for this amazing opportunity! So far volunteering with Brampton Library has been a fantastic experience and I am always excited for what we will be doing next.
Cyril Clark Branch
Volunteering during the pandemic has not been a simple task. It takes hard work and dedication to balance life, let alone in a pandemic. Though it has been difficult, it has been a wonderful experience as I have come to find that there are many values to be learned through volunteering. Firstly, you must not give up, your community needs you.
It was through the sharing of stories, documentaries, and more, that I was inspired to keep pushing through these hard times. I can only imagine what it did for others. Secondly, you must use your voice. Through our discussions, I learned there are people who are willing to listen when you speak, hence, you must speak up about issues you experience, as your voice will be heard by the right people. Furthermore, through volunteering, I learned that I am not alone in many of my struggles. For instance, many other people are finding it difficult to connect with others during these trying times, yet we are able to begin to break down that barrier by volunteering. We are able to connect through knowledge. Knowledge is powerful as it gives the opportunity to advance one’s state of mind and connect with others. The right people will be drawn to knowledge and it is through those attractions that we are able to connect as humans and keep hope alive during these strenuous times.
I would also like to thank you for helping to keep the hope alive during these hard times, it means a lot to me and it has had an unforgettable impact on me.
Princess Sarah Owusu
Gore Meadows Branch
Volunteering has always been an enjoyable and fun activity. It allows me to meet new people and learn new things, while also being able to help my community. Since I was a child I’ve always loved to read and have loved coming to the library, so when I turned 14, I knew I wanted to volunteer with Brampton library and my experience has been extremely positive and helpful.
When I first started volunteering at Brampton Library, I was very nervous but Rada and the other workers at my local branch (South Fletcher’s) were \very welcoming and accepting. It was easy for me to communicate with them and also learn new things. Since all the volunteering for the Library has been forced to be online because of COVID-19, Rada has always been sending opportunities not only to earn hours but also to explore other interests for example; Hack-a-thons. This has been good during the lockdowns because it can often feel extremely lonely and hopeless, but being able to connect to other people always makes my day brighter.
From book reviews to movie discussions, Brampton Library has always given opportunities for my voice to be heard. During this pandemic we have discussed multiple issues, ranging from BLM and police brutality, to climate change. This has allowed me to learn so many new things and also to listen to people with different perspectives. COVID-19 has been hard for all of us but I believe that volunteering online has helped me connect to others.
I like to volunteer at Brampton Library because it is such an accepting and fun place to volunteer. Before COVID I loved to be in the Library and talk to so many new people and although I’m not able to do this as often as before, I think that it is truly remarkable that we are all able to learn and meet others while we are online. I learned the importance of leadership, organization and communication while volunteering and it has helped me in many other areas of my life too.
South Fletcher’s Branch
As the pandemic began, there was uncertainty as to how the world would continue. But one of the greatest qualities of humans is our ability to adapt, and like early Homo Sapiens did, we all adapted. It was a struggle, but you cannot have success without failure to define it. Thus many lessons were learned as I tried to wade through the untested waters of the pandemic.
One of the greatest values I have learned through volunteering, and am honestly still learning, is balance. It is important to understand how to balance school, extracurriculars, and free time. Too much of something, either good or bad, can only harm oneself. One of the greatest parts of being a volunteer is the connection with the community. Branching out farther than the friends I know from my school is something that I took for granted before quarantine began. The simple hellos, how are you doing, the nods to one another---it became so much harder to hold on to people that I never talked to regularly, people outside of whom I normally spent time with. Brampton Library helped with that.
Through documentary discussions, art projects, and more, I began to re-establish the connection that would be quite hard to keep otherwise. I realized that there were a million bubbles out there outside of mine. Not only was I able to keep up with the community, but my voice was heard during movie discussions. The ability to talk about something important, that not only affects us as individuals, but the world, brought on the amazement that while we may literally be separated, we are still connected at the heart. We are in this together, all of us learning to wade through the water together.
Cyril Clark Branch
As the clock hit 12 on the eve of the new year, the world screamed in celebration. 2020 had finally begun. Little did they know, 2020 would be an unimaginable experience. Lives lost, loved ones forced apart, six feet of distance, masks covering the faces of all, everything had changed.
The global pandemic took over everyone’s lives. Impacting specific demographics more than others, it flipped the world upside down. As a student, I began online school. As a volunteer, I did not know what to expect. Having started volunteering a month before libraries were closed, I had so many questions about my role as a volunteer. Uncertainty riddled the lives of everyone, big and small, old and young. Much to my disappointment, these uncertain times left a lot of things in the unknown.
One day, while going about my day, trying to use my time at home to learn something new, I got an email that would change my whole pandemic experience. With the guidance of Ms. Micic, my voice was finally being heard. I learned about inspirational people who had changed the world, those who had been highly successful during pandemics throughout history, and most of all, I learned about the power of community.
Community unites all and in the midst of community lies compassion, empathy and leadership. As volunteers of Brampton Library, we came together to present our talents, create discussions surrounding aspects of the community, and share our skills.
My voice was being heard! Despite the difficulty of these tumultuous times, I have learned that in unity, we can all become stronger. Although these times of uncertainty have changed our lives, I have become certain that I can always rely on Brampton Library community to inspire me to evolve as a steward in my community.
This past year has been a year of the unexpected, of pain, and of new norms. But for many, it has also been a year for growth, for learning, and a year of realization. About a year ago, my journey with Brampton Library began, and it began much differently than many volunteers are used to. Ever since COVID-19 hit, everything became digital---school, work, volunteering, and even talking to peers and family. For me, who was just figuring out volunteering, it was a new stress that I had never experienced or thought I would ever experience, and I didn’t know what to expect.
But through this past year, volunteering has brought joy and happiness, even through dark and unrestful times. This position has become more than just an organization that I volunteer with, it has become a community and a safe place for me to share and express my views and ideas.
The community that has been established has allowed me to understand and connect with my peers, even though we’ve never met face to face. We’ve shared stories, insecurities, ideas, art, emotions, valuable learning materials, and all sorts of pieces together that have brought us together and made us stronger. We’ve been given opportunities to express our voices, to spread awareness, and further educate ourselves. And even though the pandemic has changed the volunteering experience for many of us, we are all pushing through and working together, as a community, to overcome these challenges. To reach the light at the end of the tunnel. To be the change for tomorrow.
It all began with an extension of March Break. Everyone was delighted to pause everything for moments, to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Sure, a little rest is great, but when you have no one to talk to, no assignments to keep you busy, nowhere to go, it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Brampton Library has helped all its volunteers immensely to prevent this situation from occurring. From discussions to book reviews, every volunteer had been given several opportunities to fight their boredom and engage in conversations that actually meant something to them.
During these conversations, every volunteer’s opinion mattered, everyone was equally respected and supported. There were many discussions regarding breaking the norms of society to crucial problems or events that went unnoticed. The ability to have such opportunities created several possibilities to obtain skills, especially confidence. This led to the motivation and encouragement of ordinary students to step out of their comfort zone and become leaders. In short, a virtual environment, created by Brampton Library, where there were no cultural barriers or stigmas present.
As a volunteer at this organization, I can proudly say that Brampton Library has opened many pathways and opportunities for me during this pandemic.
Gore Meadows Branch
What comes to one's mind at the sound of the word “volunteer”? Before, for me it would’ve meant service, giving back, and selflessness. I’ve now been a volunteer with Brampton Library for over a year, and I’ve learned that while it certainly means all of these things, there is an aspect I truly did not consider: How it would affect me as a person. Now, I can safely say that volunteering with Brampton Library impacted my values, my sense of community, and my feeling of self-worth.
During quarantine, I expected volunteering activities to come to a halt. After all, if we weren’t in the library, how could we possibly contribute to the community? I was proven clearly wrong, as we received emails almost on the daily giving us new opportunities to help out and to learn. We received access to documentaries, articles and discussions to show us the reality of the world. And I can say, my values have shifted. My priorities in life before volunteering were heavily focused on reaching success and contentment for the future, and while I had a flame for activism and charity, it had not been lit yet. After these meaningful discussions, I witnessed my values changing to something larger than my own life, I felt the need to do something, anything, to help those struggling around me. I learned the value of service, even in small ways, and like that, volunteering changed me forever.
Something special to me about Brampton Library is the importance it places on giving volunteers a voice. Rather than give and let us act out their instructions, they encourage feedback and new ideas. I witnessed this when I used to volunteer for programs and was asked to pitch ideas when something went wrong, and I saw this even clearer after the pandemic. From giving us platforms to give a presentation on any topic of our choosing, to having the volunteers host events rather than adults, the library made it clear that they took the voice of youth seriously. By encouraging me to speak, and valuing my opinion, Brampton Library has made me a more confident individual, in the truest sense of the word.
The community of volunteers I work with is incredible, and I see it in every one of our discussions. Most of these individuals I have never met in my life, but I feel comfortable telling them anything, because of how incredibly supportive my experience working with the library has been. If one of the volunteers starts an initiative, they always have this platform to present it on, as we will all go the extra mile to support it.
Volunteering is an experience I will hold dearly to my heart for the rest of my life, as it is one of the rare experiences I can honestly say changed me.
South Fletcher’s Branch
March break of 2020 is when things completely changed for me. To think I would experience a pandemic in my high school years was something that never crossed my mind. However, volunteering with the library has helped me grow and the pandemic made me realize just how glad I am to be a part of it. I learned a lot, the value of opportunities, opening my eyes to the issues in this world, talking about things that are important, being thankful for all the things we have, the value of our environment and much more.
Every opportunity that was given to me felt like a new door was opened, full of learning experiences and fun. It helped me busy myself while at home when boredom was at its prime. I opened up about my experiences, making my voice heard as an attempt to help others connect and take charge of what I believed was right. It made me realize how important it is to support others, not just because of a pandemic. Throughout, many issues were finally getting shun on.
This led me to realize the importance of community involvement because we tend to try to change the bigger picture without even addressing the issues in our backyards first. Brampton Library helped not just me, but a lot of people in many ways. Working with such empowering people and having such a great role model like Ms. Rada, allowed me to put myself out there. Definitely an eye-opener to how much chaos can break out when things seem out of control, truth is though, we have so much more power over a situation than we think. Thus, my volunteering experience has been very life-changing and I am very thankful for being a part of Brampton Library.
This time of the Pandemic has impacted many people in significant ways. Everyone has learned differently and grown from this in big ways. Many jobs were lost, people’s mental health was impacted, school has been different since the onset, many people don’t have shelter or food, many loved ones have been lost, posing lots of emotional stress on families. and so much more.
During this Pandemic, I have been volunteering with Brampton Library since the start. Even though I wasn’t able to go into the Library to volunteer, I was able to get hours in different ways. I was able to get them by writing essays, writing book and movie reviews, attending different activities online, and much more. During this valuable time, I have learned so much and so many new things. I have experienced things in many different ways possible. One of the values I have learned is to firstly, take action in a timely manner. The reason is that we were given many activities where we had to write a blog about different things and we posted them to raise awareness about a certain topic. I also learned how to make every moment count. When given activities, they also broadened my horizons to look at things from different perspectives. Our voices are heard every day because many people wrote blogs to post online and others created presentations amongst many other things. I also once created a blog about Covid-19 and it was uploaded to a website that really made me feel that my voice was heard. Staying connected online through trivia is one of the many ways I felt connected with the community even though we were not able to meet in person. When it comes to supporting each other, we send out emails of appreciation and encouragement after someone may have done a presentation. Overall, this experience has been quite a learning curve with many new things possible on the horizon.
South Fletcher’s branch
Volunteering throughout the unprecedented pandemic has been an unpredicted change and required a great amount of adjustment. A volunteer is known as an individual who assists in taking part in an enterprise or undertaking a task. As I volunteered with Brampton Library before the introduction of COVID-19, I remember assisting in programs weekly and engaging in the learning of younger children. As the pandemic arrived and we were required to reside at our homes, I was welcomed to a new environment: volunteering and learning online.
Participating in the pandemic assisted me in making valuable experiences and connections. I began to acquire a knowledge of my core values in this new environment. Creativity was one of the many core values I developed. As I participated in expressing my passion for a book or work of art, in writing book reviews and sharing artwork, or engaging in discussions about worldwide issues, I felt my creativity expand. I was able to think of more and more original ideas and tried to add value to them in our projects. Participating in these programs allowed me to develop curiosity and passion by being open to the new environment. Further, I felt my voice being heard as our reviews and opinions were being shared with the world, whether it be of books, artwork or social injustice issues. I felt great being a part of this community, where I can share my opinion freely and listen to others.
Making a difference requires leadership. Understanding what motivates one and acting upon it, by leading oneself and eventually others, is key to making an impact. This was a lesson that I had learned volunteering with Brampton Library online, and I was able to act upon it in my school work and other extracurriculars.
Hosting discussions with Brampton Library volunteers was an experience that motivated me to spread awareness about social injustice issues. I enjoyed, as a volunteer, discovering how to make an impact on society and support each others’ ideas. All around me was a motivating environment where advocating for one another was greatly beneficial to my social and mental health throughout the pandemic. Volunteering at Brampton Library throughout the pandemic demonstrated to me the magic that happens when we work together to a common purpose and towards change, and I am highly grateful for this experience.
Once again, thank you for these opportunities to share our ideas with the world!
Avneet Kaur Saini
South Fletcher’s Branch