Though he’s been with the Y for barely two years, 23-year-old Daniel has already made his mark on three drastically different programs. After racking up an impressive 460 volunteer hours with Health & Fitness, the Academy, and YLD, Daniel was hired to coach kids’ sports. His versatility across so many different programs allowed him to become a role model for countless young people, and gave him skills he now uses to train new volunteers.
“Jumping into volunteering was tough for me,” Daniel says. “I have a stutter, and worried that people would find it hard to understand or relate to me. I was particularly concerned because my very first volunteer position was at the Academy — so I’d be working with kids, and I wasn’t sure how they’d react.”
He soon learned that his fears were totally unfounded. “Right from the start, I loved walking into the Academy each morning,” he says. “The kids would be there looking so happy to see me, and always wanted my help.”
“I also volunteered to help support the Youth Leadership Development Program, and had nothing but positive experiences — so much so that I decided I wanted to work for the Y when I finished school.”
After he graduated, Daniel started working in children’s Health & Fitness programs at the Toronto Central Grosvenor Street YMCA Centre, where he immediately made a big impact. “Daniel is amazing,” says Katie Lowe, Acting General Manager of the Scarborough YMCA Centre. “He is exceptionally dedicated — always willing to help out. The kids love him and he obviously very much enjoys working with them. He has gotten involved in training other volunteers.”
This role as a volunteer trainer came naturally to Daniel. “Having volunteered a lot myself, I know how it feels to be put in a strange, new environment where you need to learn on the fly and pick things up as you go,” he explains. “So I use my own volunteering experience, and everything my own trainer taught me, to help people who are just starting become the best volunteers they can be.”
His time at the Y has helped Daniel develop a wide range of skills, including his ability to be a leader. “Volunteering and working at the Y are experiences you just can’t get anywhere else,” Daniel says. “It wasn’t easy, but I’ve come a long way from thinking that my stutter could hold me back. Actually, a lot of the kids I’ve worked with look up to me as a role model: they see me as an example of someone who’s pushing forward through problems, and following their dreams no matter what.”