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The Magic of ICA’s Volunteers

ICA would not be able to achieve all that it has in fifty years without the time and talents of our dedicated volunteers. For Corie Price, a volunteer with the ICA for over 15 years, she couldn’t imagine a better way to connect with her community. “It’s just so positive and upbeat here,” she says.  “ICA is such a welcoming place. The energy of the classrooms are what keep me coming back.”

Corie was first introduced to the ICA through Folk Fest in the early 2000s. She and her husband Jim were captured by the energy of the event and felt a strong urge to donate their time as they entered retirement. Her fist posting was in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classrooms. There, she helped students one on one with reading, writing and conversation clubs.

“I loved the classroom environments because it’s so varied and a good challenge,” she remembers. One of her favourite programs was helping with a secret letter writing project. Students would pair with an unknown volunteer to exchange letters over the course of the semester.  By the end of the three months, students would have to try and guess which volunteer they were paired with. The chance to learn new skills, have fun and build community proved a recipe for success for Corie.

She found herself particularly drawn to supporting seniors who attended the language classes. “It was great to see so many seniors involved in learning,” she says. “It gives them an opportunity to feel like they aren’t missing out. I think the classes really help older people feel like they’re still connected and helps them build confidence.”

Volunteering with ICA gives Corie a wonderful sense of purpose too. “The benefit to us volunteers is feeling like you are a part of something bigger to help people feel included and comfortable in our community.”

Beyond working with clients, Corie feels a great balance of support and challenge in her role as a volunteer. The support she receives from Volunteer Coordinator, Liz Bean, keeps her motivated when challenges arise. “Liz is so great at matching people to opportunities that work for them. She’s really propelled me and helped me feel like I want to be a part of the organization.”

Corie says patience and compassion are her secrets to success. “I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend this experience to anyone. I think it’s great for anyone who wants to involve themselves in supporting diversity.”

Corie has witnessed a lot of growth in the organization as well – not only in the number of clients accessing services, but in the quality of programs offered.

“When I look at the bulletin board of programs offered – from cooking and exercise to programs on cultural context and group connections – there is just so much more available to folks than in previous years,” she says. She is optimistic that ICA’s newly announced relocation will be able to offer even more to newcomers. Beyond language support, Corie finds -ICA’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program a point of pride for the community.

“It’s great to see ICA going beyond just basic programs to being a positive force in bringing people to Canada and encouraging immigration,” she says.

If you would like more information about volunteer opportunities and how to apply, please reach out to Liz Bean, volunteer coordinator.