Winnipeg youth show they care at 15 agencies.
More than 100 Winnipeg high school students gathered at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre at Win Gardner Place and boarded busses for the annual United Way Youth Day of Caring.
The students gave their time and sweat equity to make improvements at 15 different agencies around Winnipeg on Friday.
Before they departed they heard about the work of their host, Ma Mawi, from Lorenda Nepinak, a Home Visitor with the Families First Program. She had some parting words of wisdom for the young volunteers.
“Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.”
At the North End Women’s Centre several students wielded bags and pickers to clean garbage from the centres yards.
The United Way agency partner provides a multitude of services including counselling, drop-in, addictions recovery and transitional housing.
“Thank you so much, we really appreciate it,” Marissa Rykiss, a parent-child coordinator at the centre told the youth before they started cleaning up the garden and yards around their buildings.
“It’s really inspiring to see the youth doing it, we all want a more beautiful Winnipeg,” she said.
At Dufferin School Community Garden students placed and filled new raised garden beds and prepared existing ones for planting. The garden is used by newcomers that have been helped through Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).
Jim Beckta, Greening Coordinator with IRCOM, said the students are helping meet the demand for more gardening space for newcomers.
“It’s wonderful. It’s very helpful,” said Jim.
Student EJ had some trouble hoisting a full wheelbarrow into a new garden bed, but thankfully was not hurt.
“I feel glad. I feel happy. It’s for them,” EJ said of his day volunteering.
At Graffiti Art Programming students from Elmwood High School painted the outside walls black to get them ready for more artwork by youth involved in the agency’s art programs.
“I feel honoured that I get to do this, I appreciate that my teacher asked me to.” said Denise Cal Ortiz.
Jessie Canard, a summer administrative assistant at Graffiti Art, said she hopes more youth learn about their free art programming.
“It’s really awesome to have these youth come down here as a lot of them haven’t been here before. And it’s awesome to have the help.”
Corey Mohr, Community Development Coordinator at NorWest Co-op Community Health’s Gilbert Park Resource Centre, said the students from Gray Academy of Jewish Education who spent two hours sweating in one of their community gardens were thanked by some area residents.
“That’s powerful. That’s what I like to see, that people are appreciative.”
Student Ilan Jacobowitz said people like himself are often unfamiliar with communities like Gilbert Park – Manitoba’s largest social housing complex with 1,100 residents.
“It’s nice to see organizations like United Way and resource centres like (NorWest) helping out in communities,” said Ilan, who believes involving youth in the community plants a seed which will grow into more participation and volunteering in the future.
Fellow student Philip Roshkevsky seemed to confirm Ilan’s hypothesis, saying he was proud to be helping and that it makes him “want to do more.”
After a morning helping at agencies the students talked about what community means to them.
They re-fueled with lunch generously donated by Santa Lucia Pizza before heading out again for walking tours of Winnipeg’s North End community led by members of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO).
Look for photos of the day on social media under hashtags #ydoc2016 and #YouthUnitedWpg and learn more about Youth United online.