Volunteer Appreciation Month– One CCAS Volunteer Shares Her Story
March 4th, 2014
When Deb Godsoe decided to volunteer as a Youth Mentor at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, she thought she was signing up for a three-month program. She was in the process of adopting an older child and her adoption worker had suggested the program to see how she’d feel having an older child coming out of care. She was excited, but leery. At meetings she listened to longtime volunteers talk about how rewarding the experience was, but she didn’t feel like she could relate to them. Much has changed since then!
That three month stint has turned into five years. Once Deb met and got to know the 12-year-old-boy, Simon, who she was working with she realized that she couldn’t just walk away. The role of Youth Mentor involved taking the young man to activities – sports games, movies, go-karting – a fun few hours for a child who had few supports in his life. Deb was quickly won over and, in time, began to include him in family events and a greater number of activities. Now 16, Simon is like a member of her family – still attending her huge Christmas and Thanksgiving events and acting as a big brother figure to the son Deb has since adopted.
Over the years a lot has happened – Simon went from being in the community to being in care, his mother and siblings moved to another country and he has changed group homes on a few occasions. Throughout those transitions, Deb was a constant presence in his life. “I could have stopped long ago,” she says, “but I wanted to let him know there’s someone who cares.” Deb attends Simon’s plan of care meetings, talks regularly to his worker and group home supervisor and has even been approved to have Simon for weekend visits, where he plays video games and goofs around with her son like any teenager would.
“He’s a funny, nice kid,” she says, “he’s really thoughtful.” She talks about how incredibly touched she was this year when he used his limited allowance to buy her a Christmas present.
Not every Youth Mentor stays in a child’s life as long as Deb has. Sometimes the child grows up and drifts away or the volunteer takes another assignment, but Deb says that volunteers should look at it as a long term commitment.
“He’s with us forever,” she says firmly. And when he’s old enough, Deb hopes to share with him the journal she’s kept of their time together – each activity (more than 200 now) has been logged in a book with notes about what they did and how they enjoyed it. At first, she did it to maintain a record of her volunteer role, but now she does it simply because she loves the idea of looking back one day and seeing how many movies, how many games of pool and how many fun days at a basketball game they have shared.
Interested in becoming a Youth Mentor or taking on another volunteer role?
Contact our Volunteer Department at firstname.lastname@example.org | 416-395-1998