By Victoria Alvarez
Daniel Bonsu greets me warmly from the reception desk when I enter the Mississauga City Centre Drive YMCA Employment Centre. I immediately take notice of his serene presence and engage him in conversation while I wait for my appointment to begin. As we chat, I watch him smoothly answering telephone calls, while signing people into the resource centre. It’s immediately clear to me that this is someone who is completely in his element.
Over the past 11 years, Daniel has accumulated thousands of hours as a YMCA volunteer. He discovered the Y’s employment resource services in the early 2000s, and chose to volunteer and stay long-term. In his role at the Mississauga Employment Centre, he arrives early to switch on the lights and computers, and stays behind extra hours volunteering to help clients with their resumes. “I design resume templates and run workshops with the support of staff,” Daniel says. “One client got a job at a law firm with one of the resumes I helped her create.”
His experience as a YMCA volunteer has helped Daniel build customer service skills in an interactive and positive environment. He told me that it’s made a huge difference in his life. “Volunteering has made me more energetic, proficient, and friendly,” Daniel says. “I feel more like a leader now, and I feel more dependable. It’s a great feeling inside, and it’s also very rewarding. It’s why I get up early in the morning.”
Daniel is a big believer in the Y’s mission, and its commitment to the community. “The YMCA is a great step for youth, newcomers, for everybody,” he says. “It’s a valuable and resourceful tool, whether for assistance or for employment. The YMCA is home for everybody, whether they need help or not. It improves lives. It’s helped improve my life. It’s been 100% more than a positive experience.”