NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories featuring Brock students who are integrating the 2021 Canada Games into their volunteer activities. For more information on Brock’s activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games
As most Brock students complete the Fall Term virtually, Odelia Chiu hopes they will consider online opportunities to volunteer as well.
Chiu, a second-year Political Science student, has been passionate about volunteering for as long as she can remember. After helping out at autism therapy programs throughout her childhood, the 18-year-old Markham native sought out similar opportunities when she began her studies at Brock.
Luckily, an email about the Brock University Volunteer Association (BUVA), that arrived shortly before she began her first year at the University, helped her channel her love of volunteering in a new setting.
Founded in September 2019 as an initiative leading up to the 2021 Canada Games, BUVA is a group of trained Brock students committed to improving the local community by volunteering for at least 20 hours each year.
After applying and being accepted to BUVA, Chiu participated in the association’s monthly meetings, which led to local volunteer opportunities and prompted her to take on a leadership role in the association for the 2020-21 academic year.
“I’m excited for BUVA to get bigger and hopefully find more diverse volunteer opportunities for the group,” she said.
With physical distancing regulations limiting in-person volunteer opportunities, Chiu has been able to draw on her own experience volunteering as a secretary with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Niagara to ensure new online opportunities are available.
“There are lots of opportunities where groups might need help and lots of things that can be done online, including accounting, communications and secretary work.,” she said. “I want to try to find more of those opportunities, and we’ve already had several community organizations reach out and let us know they are looking for virtual volunteers.”
In addition to having access to numerous volunteer opportunities, Chiu also said BUVA is engaging its participants through two meetings each month — one focusing on skill development and the other on social interaction.
“I’d like for the members of BUVA to be a community,” she said. “We have been a group that shares information with one another and through our additional meeting we can share about our lives as well.”
As she prepares for her new leadership role, Chiu hopes others will join her in giving back to organizations and initiatives that could use some extra help.
“BUVA is a great opportunity for so many people,” she said. “There are so many diverse skills we all have that can help others. By working together, we can really make a difference to our communities.”
Anyone interested in learning more about BUVA can view an online presentation on Thursday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. until noon as part of the Brock Cares series. The deadline to apply to be a BUVA member is Friday, Sept. 25.