Volunteer Initiative coordinates local and international projects 

By Jane Shulman

Members of the Concordia community are known for offering their skills and experience to projects as volunteers, whether on campus, locally, nationally or abroad. Concordia University’s Volunteer Initiative (CUVI) is a new portal where students, faculty and staff may look for volunteer opportunities, share stories of their experiences, and be recognized for their achievements.

CUVI’s website was recently launched with the intention of being a hub for people who want to get involved but may not be sure where to start. It is also a place for long-time volunteers to talk about their involvement and inspire others.

The website’s launch coincided with National Volunteer Week at the end of April.
CUVI recognized several exceptional volunteers at this year’s Concordia Council for Student Life awards. Their contributions ranged from helping kids with homework after school to providing aid after natural disasters and supporting education in developing countries.

The idea came from the Dean of Students office about a year ago, and several departments were eager to jump on board, explained Valerie Millette, career advisor at Career and Placement Services, and one of the founding members of CUVI. The committee includes representatives from the School of Extended Learning, Counselling and Development, the Concordia Alumni Association, among several others.

CUVI’s website provides suggestions for choosing a place to volunteer, and questions to ask oneself before getting started.

“Get involved in a cause you believe in, and choose the activity strategically,” said Millette, who also works as a Trainer for the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal. Whether it’s to gain work experience, network, learn new skills, or meet people in a new city, volunteering tends to benefits everyone involved.

Strategic volunteering is key for students entering the job market, Millette explained. Employers look for “soft skills,” which are transferable or personal skills, and students who volunteer are able to pull examples from their experiences. Volunteering in fields different from students’ area of study may also allow them to step outside their comfort zone.

As the website grows, Millette noted that the links to volunteering opportunities in Canada and abroad will continue to be added. It is a work in progress. Millette has spent the past several months gathering volunteer listings from all over the university, and combing the city for resources too, making the site a real centre for potential and current volunteers.

To share your volunteer story with CUVI, or for any inquiry, you can email volunteer@concordia.ca.


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