Updated: Apr 5
Underserved Saint John youth need volunteers more than ever. According to the UNICEF data hub:
COVID-19 is "most damaging for children [...] in the poorest neighborhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations."
Help youths' situations get better by volunteering. Don't allow them to worsen due to the pandemic.
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This page explores, in-depth, the opportunities available to generous volunteers like you in Saint John. We'll introduce you to long-standing, local, volunteer events and opportunities to explain how they help and how you can use them to contribute this year.
What are volunteer opportunities in Saint John like? Why are they important?
Wikipedia defines a volunteering as:
"a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service."
Volunteers are a critical resource for nonprofit organizations serving Saint John’s communities so, often, these organizations will be flexible and allow you to contribute in the way that best serves your schedule and needs.
For example, Pathways has tutoring, mentorship, summer student and internship opportunities to suit a volunteer base with diverse talents.
If Pathways' opportunities for volunteer experience and impact aren’t for you:
There are 91 volunteer positions open for applications in the Saint John area at the time of writing.
The need for community support is evident. According to State of the Child 42% of grade 6 students in New Brunswick have an inadequate grade in mathematics. Becoming a tutor is a way for you start helping this community overcome their difficulties right now.
Only 44.8% of food insecure youth in NB say they feel “very good” or “excellent” and 41% of LGBTQ youth say the same. Your contribution can help improve these youths’ circumstances and confidence.
Here are 6 places to volunteer in Saint John right now:
If the facts above have driven you to action, Saint John offers a variety of vocations and specialties for you to make a difference while gaining career experience. Volunteer opportunities have a lower barrier to entry than traditional job postings or internships so they are a good way to improve your resume while making an impact. Here are some of the best places to make a difference volunteering in Saint John right now:
Experience Type: Tutoring
Pathways Tutoring is a welcoming place for all volunteers (and interns) looking for experience working with youth in an academic setting.
Here are some of the duties you can expect to perform from the Pathways website:
Pathways to Education programming is being offered to youth entering who reside in the Waterloo Village and South End neighborhoods of Saint John. The program supports youth and their families through a variety of free supports:
Academic Support: through a tutoring program
Social Support: through a mentoring program
Financial Support: through bi-weekly incentives and a scholarship
Advocacy Support: though their own Youth Advisor
Contributing to students' academic success let's you watch your impact play out contribute to the community. According to Pathways:
“The […] model has been proven to increase high school graduation within target communities by 70%. Of these graduates, 73% have gone on to pursue post-secondary education and training.”
Experience Type: Event Coordination
Tutoring isn’t for everyone. A resume with examples of volunteerism and expertise is usually required. If you’re just beginning your volunteering or non-profit career journey the TRC Drop-in Zone may be a better fit for you. Programming ranges from TimberTop trips to laser tag at the Community Cluster. Here’s what Drop-in says you can expect:
Drop-in runs after school with free and fun activities for ages 13-18. It's a great place to hang out, enjoy a snack, and play some games.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Saint John (BBBS)
Experience Type: Mentorship
BBBS is a global organization. If you're concerned the quality of such a big charity is: they have a 4-star trust rating (out of 5). Their contribution to Saint John is undeniable. The majority of postings on our local volunteer job board, gsjvolunteer.ca, are hosted by them.
BBBS’ primary volunteer opportunity is, of course, to become a big brother or sister to youth in the community. This means becoming a mentor in some capacity to youth. Exploring the programming offerings on their website gives insight into this. Here are some of the programs:
Big Brother/Sister Mentor: This program provides young people a role model to talk to and share the experiences of growing up with. The result is a life-changing experience for both the mentor and the mentee.
Big-G Ementoring: individuals aged 55+ are virtually matched with a teen volunteer in their community. The matches spend one hour a week meeting through virtual platforms taking part in activities of mutual interest.
Propel: module based learning opportunities that equip young people ages 14-21 with new skills and exposing them to opportunities that build better self-awareness and confidence to make informed decisions for their education and career goals.
Go Girls: group mentoring program for girls ages 12-14 that focuses on physical activity, balanced eating and self-esteem.
Game On!: group mentoring program for providing boys and young men with information and support to make informed choices about a range of healthy lifestyle practices.
Big Brunch: Big Bunch provides children and youth with mentoring support through group-based recreational programming.
Mentor Links: encourage engagement while simultaneously maintaining contact between the agency and the families of youth waiting for a traditional 1-to-1 match.
If these long-term volunteer opportunities are not for you and you’d rather volunteer on an event basis: make sure to complete your application with BBBS. They offer a range of events every year with volunteer support, as well.
YMCA Saint John
Experience Type: Volunteer Opportunities For Teens
New comer connections offers one of the most unique and rewarding experiences for volunteers in Saint John. Instead of participating in a rigid environment – YMCA First Friends, through newcomer connections, are encouraged to spend time with newcomers as though they were family or best friends.
This fosters true connections between the community and the YMCA.
Y Newcomer connections:
"offers a diverse range of programs and services to newly arrived immigrants, including English language classes, employment readiness programs, Canadian cultural orientation, immigrant settlement and refugee resettlement assistance, and school readiness programs."
Age is a barrier to prospective humanitarians becoming a mentor or event coordinator. It’s reassuring that the YMCA provides them these volunteer opportunities for teens in Saint John.
Their volunteer opportunities for teens are:
Youth Council (ages 19 to 26): love your community, and want to create a positive, impactful change? This opportunity is for you!
Youth Program Assistant (Ages 12 and up): Assist youth program leads as a youth program volunteer.
Ythrive (ages 14 and up) : build relationships with Members, YMCA Staff and Volunteers assisting Fitness Staff on duty. Provide exercise advice and instruction to members. Demonstrate knowledge of Fitness Floor, YMCA mission, core values and act as a positive role model. Help to maintain a positive, friendly, and safe environment in Health and Wellness areas.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
Experience Type: Emergency Response and Technical Skills
The international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is also a force for good in Saint John. Red Cross volunteer opportunities in Saint John are predominantly at events. This organization is a good option for those with busy schedules who must pick and choose which weekends can be dedicated to humanitarianism.
Red Cross’ increased resources make it uniquely equipped to handle emergency based measures involving volunteers. These services specialize in the unique needs of New Brunswickers. Some may even recognize the organization from contributing to bailing out their neighborhood.
Another unique offering from Red Cross has been a bastion of hope for those isolated due to COVID-19. By becoming a Friendly Calls volunteer you can be part of the community isolated individuals need to fight the mental health deficits caused by the pandemic's isolating circumstances.
Finally, due to Red Cross’ size it’s able to even offer vocational experiences as a technician. For people looking to use volunteer experience on their resume this is a great place to get their foot in the door. You could also use this experience to test whether a career in this kind of equipment is right for you.
Experience Type: Music Festival
One volunteer opportunity that is bound to speak to music lovers is the Area 506 music festival. Saint John’s local music festival has been steadily growing since it’s inception in 2016. Here’s a quick before and after to get you acquainted and the best moments free previous years:
You’ll note the second video is from 2021: that’s right! Area 506 conquered COVID-19 to bring amazing music to Saint John with the help of dedicated volunteers.
If you want the opportunity to work with performers from around Canada (and sometimes beyond) don’t miss the chance to apply at Area 506’s website.
Make sure you’re the candidate selected for volunteer opportunities
Part of applying for volunteer opportunities involves submitting an application and resume. Crafting the perfect application for any position is difficult. Thankfully, much of the traditional wisdom for job hunters holds true when making a resume for non-profit positions:
Create a bespoke resume for specifically this position: All volunteer opportunity postings appear with some kind of description. Use to create, in point form, all of the skills and attributes the volunteer must possess. Cater your resume to touch on all of these points at least once while leaning on the one’s you’re strongest in.
Curate your experience: If you only have a couple of jobs this step is easy because you'll need to leverage what experience you do have to look impressive. If, however, you’ve had a long career – you need to choose jobs and experiences that relate back to the volunteer position you’re applying for.
Use visual elements to stand out: A lot of resumes appear to recruiters in the same format. According to Purdue, Employers will usually take, at most, only thirty-five seconds to look at this one-page representation of yourself before deciding whether to keep or discard it. To ensure that you will make it past that initial screening, you should design your résumé in such a way that employers can read the document easily and process information quickly.
Those 3 tips will help with any position, however, you’re applying with non-profits. Here are some extra hints to wrangle the attention of non-profit HR:
Your resume should include all volunteer experience and, in most cases, give them as much or more space than your traditional work experience. It’s okay to go over 1 page with your resume for this reason (the one-pager is an antiquated standard for resume quality and design).
Craft a cover letter or e-mail describing why you’re applying to this position from the perspective of how you can contribute to the community with your unique set of abilities. How you can contribute differently is more important here than how you could contribute “better.”
Network! Non-profits almost always have some sort of public facing event. This provides you the opportunity to network with some of the highest ranking people at the organization before applying with your resume. Up to 80% of positions are filled through personal connections.
Send us your resume and start your volunteer position today
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Stay up to date on the opportunities near you
It’s possible that you’re just here to look around and get an idea of which opportunity would work best for you. Hopefully you’ll decide to apply for a volunteer opportunity today but, if you don’t, consider signing up for alerts with the following websites to make sure you know when the perfect volunteering opportunity for you comes up:
https://gsjvolunteer.ca/ : This is specifically for Saint John Volunteers like we mentioned above. GSJ has a great layout and loads of opportunities. The last one was published less than a week ago so you can be sure new opportunities will arise often.
https://ca.indeed.com/jobs?q=Volunteer&l=Saint%20John%2C%20NB : Indeed has a filter for volunteer jobs here in Saint John but also across the country via virtual connection. The pandemic has exponentially increased the number of people who are isolated and need help. This website makes that connection easy.
http://www.canadian-universities.net/Volunteer/Saint-John-Volunteer-Centre.html : While seldom updated this page has a pretty in depth record of the volunteer opportunities available in Saint John at any given time.
You can make a difference today
There are many ways to be an effective volunteer in Saint John. The community needs you. It’s a great networking opportunity that will improve your job application skills and there’s such a diverse set of jobs that you’ll definitely find something for you.
We hope these resources have been helpful in your search to be an effective volunteer. We’re proud of you for being such a passionate contributor to humanitarian causes in Atlantic Canada.
Become a volunteer to make a contribution with us today
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