Youth who have contributed their time and energy to make the city a better place are receiving some recognition for their efforts.
SOARing has received a new grant of $2,000 from the St. Albert Community Foundation, funding that will be used to offer the organization’s 10 representatives some professional leadership training.
“The reps have done so much for this community,” said Pat Phelan, the director of volunteer centre services at the Community Information and Volunteer Centre (CIVC). “These young people are at a point where they’re going from a teen to jumping off into an adult world. They’re wonderful young people. They give so much of themselves. They belong to SOARing because they truly believe in giving to community, and they do it themselves.”
“I thought how great it would be to give them some training going forward in the world.”
SOARing stands for Stand Out and Represent, Inspiring the New Generation. It’s the CIVC’s way of reaching out and creating tomorrow’s community leaders today. Representatives of high school and college age spend the school year offering presentations to student and youth groups, extolling the virtues of volunteerism and community involvement.
It’s been slightly more than two years since the group’s inception and it has already reached out to 1,000 students, which has led to dozens upon dozens of volunteer opportunities being fulfilled.
SOARing co-ordinator Annie Kelly stated, “There has been an increase in youth looking for volunteer opportunities, and we provide information on that. We’re there to connect them.”
“We can refer 1,200 volunteers into the community in a year but you have no idea of the ripple effect of that. With SOARing, it’s the same way. They go into schools and talk to the kids about the benefits of getting involved, networking and volunteering in the community,” Phelan continued.
SOARing’s representatives also have major presences at city events such as February’s Fire and Ice Festival and the International Children’s Festival in May. During December, they canvassed city businesses to donate toys and games to the Stollery Children’s Hospital and St. Albert Victim Services.
Kelly said the representatives make her job easy because they’re so full of positive energy.
“It’s just a joy to be around them,” she enthused. “They speak so passionately. They’re so inspiring. They really do inspire these other youths to step up and to get involved.”
She indicated that new school presentations are being lined up for the coming weeks and the leadership training sessions are set to take place next month. There, the representatives (and alumni) will learn how to develop personal and interpersonal skills such as public speaking, gaining confidence, conflict resolution and being aware of the signs of stress and depression in others.
“We’re just preparing them for challenges that they’re going to face as they grow up.”
She added that the team was incredibly grateful to the foundation for the grant.
This is the second in a series of articles exploring the recent grants handed out by the St. Albert Community Foundation.