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Volunteering not only makes an impact but creates a great friendship!

Sofia’s story  

We met Sofia, a recent immigrant from Latin America, in October 2016 at the ISKA Youth Group, and she signed up for our program after our workshop. 

She told us that she was interested in sports, learning new languages, art, cooking, making friends, and her dream was to help people with less advantages from other countries. She also dreamed of a fulfilling life, graduating from a post-secondary institution, and having a steady job, and a house. 

She said she didn’t know much about university options in Canada and wanted to figure out what to do after high school.  We had a lot of bad luck with matches for Sofia, for one reason or another, many of the people who were interested in mentoring her were unable to follow through with the 5-month commitment.  We were at least able to introduce Sofia to a couple of people who had a similar background and were able to share their stories about adapting to Canada, answer some of Sofia’s questions and offer a bit of advice.  

It took about 6 months to finally find the right match for Sofia, who was very patient and understanding during the process.  Luckily, we finally met Marcades, a social worker who, although doesn’t speak much Spanish, had roots in South America.  It was nice that they had two things in common, a bit of cultural background and a career interest in helping people, but it was even better that they seemed to click almost right away.  

Sofia and Marcades took an interest in each other almost immediately and started to meet regularly from the beginning. They met often for coffee, worked on Sofia’s English, talked about post-secondary options, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Sofia also taught Marcades a bit about Mexican culture. 

The months went by quickly for both, and when I told them the 5 months were up, Sofia said “No! Does this mean I can’t see her anymore?” I said of course not, but suggested we have a meeting between the three of us to celebrate their successes and discuss the possibility of doing another 5 months.  

They both came in and had wonderful things to say about each other.  I could tell that they really appreciated each other, and they gave each other great feedback.  Sofia gave Marcades a 5/5 on everything, and indicated not only that Marcades was a caring, consistent adult who had made a difference in her life, but she also wrote that they had a close relationship, and that she had learned a lot from Marcades.  

I suggested they do another 5 months together, which they both agreed to with enthusiasm. 

Currently, Sofia has plans to attend Saint Lawrence College, and is hoping to get her last credits at High School finished so she can start in September.  Coincidentally Marcades is also going back to school this year.

Visit here for more information on volunteering with Keys, or contact KEYS.

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