WHITE POINT – “Every action, whether large or small, has an impact, much like the effect a drop of water has, rippling outward and making change,” outlines the Region of Queens Municipality’s website on volunteer activity in the community.
To honour these volunteers, the Region of Queens Council and staff came up with the Ripple Effect Volunteer Initiative as a way to recognize the significant and far reaching impact of its volunteer community.
One of these recent recipients is White Point resident, Tori Benedict, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Liverpool Regional High School.
Benedict started getting involved in her community at age 13, while participating in a program at South Queens Middle School called “Volunteer Initiative in our Community,” where students were encouraged to build their resumes, she says.
This prompted her to start volunteering at the food bank and Queens Manor. From there, Benedict says she decided to stay a couple of afternoons in the daycare in the same building as the food bank.
“That was a big turning point for me because I loved seeing how much people appreciated such little things,” says Benedict.
She says it kept her going.
Benedict’s biography on the Ripple Effect webpage shows she hasn’t stopped, either. Benedict and her friend Emily started up a weekly radio show called “Perspectives,” which ran for a year, then they moved on to having their own weekly show called “The Tori & Emily Show”, which continued into their high school years. Benedict volunteered as a stage manager for two Winds of Change productions and volunteered with Girl Guides twice a week.
Currently, Benedict is involved in the Queens Advisory Committee, student council, the catapult leadership society and the high school’s prom committee.
Benedict says she’s able to balance all her volunteer work with her school work because of her amazing support system and by prioritizing - homework comes first.
When asked if she thought youth volunteers were decreasing, she said she thought it was the same as always. There will always be kids and adults who will not volunteer because they aren't getting paid, she says.
“But, you are. Just in big smiles and thank yous and that's better than cash any day of the week,” she says.
It's harder for a youth to volunteer because of not having a vehicle, working, school, chores, homework, and activities, says Benedict.
For any youth who are interested in volunteering, Benedict says to start small. Start with little things like volunteering once a month at an animal shelter, she suggests.
“You may feel overwhelmed if you take on three pay-it-forward projects by yourself during basketball season, so pick something you’re interested in and a time that works for you,” she says.
The best advice she has, which works for all ages is to remember you can still help others by not giving yourself away.
“I feel very honoured about being nominated for ripple effect recognition program,” Benedict adds. “I'm very proud of myself for doing these things and I've never really thought about how much stuff I've done until now.”
Did you know?
Anyone can nominate a resident of Queens County for recognition through this program that inspires and affects positive change in the community in a volunteer capacity. As soon as nominations are received, staff say they are immediately posted and shared. Nominations can be made year-round at any time by visiting www.regionofqueens.com/municipal-services/recreation/volunteering/overview.