Jennifer Page, Volunteer Coordinator

Jennifer Page, volunteer coordinator for Camrose Women’s Shelter Society (CWSS), is preparing for a celebration of kindhearted individuals. This year from April 16 to 22, volunteers will be recognized across the country under Volunteer Canada’s theme for 2023: Volunteering Weaves Us Together.

Often, volunteers reflect the heart of a non-profit business, illuminating its core values while strengthening its connection to community. As volunteers go about their work at CWSS, contagious energy trickles toward the creation of new ideas, eventually flowing beyond the walls.

“The energy students bring is a telltale sign that they are ready to step up to the plate,” says Page. “And ninety-nine per cent of the time, these bright students are ready to hit a home run.”

Student recruitment is critical for the success of CWSS volunteer program, and for creating retention within the sector. Students that complete practicum requirements or Community Service Learning placements with CWSS have opportunities to continue with the organization as employees. This not only boosts workplace culture, but also the potential to retain skilled workers for growth within the human services industry.

“After volunteering with us, students often continue on with studies through graduate school to become doctors, social workers and nurses,” says Page. “We have been fortunate to receive bright ideas from Master’s students.”

Innovative thoughts develop through these community relationships, and in this way we are woven together. Student volunteers enhance the shelter’s programs by delivering current information. Meanwhile, CWSS collaborates with educational program coordinators to ensure that practicums and placements benefit the students as much as the shelter.

“I collaborate with University of Alberta and CDI and Northern Lakes Colleges to place students from various programs, including nursing, social work and education,” says Page. “Our feedback is incorporated into course design since it has to work for both of us.

“Through the process we are learning, so we have to listen, use openness and be changeable in some ways. We are steadfast in our foundations; though, have to integrate what these students are doing into our processes. We need to be open to what the world is going to be.”

What will the evolving world look like, and is it possible to create a space where each person feels safe? CWSS aims for this through its vision: Communities where all people are free from violence and abuse. With the expectation of augmenting challenges, CWSS is steady in living its mission and commitment to providing safety and services for victims of violence and abuse.

Page, motivated to make the world a better place through her volunteers, aspires to begin each day with a grateful heart, a message inscribed on a gift that she reads daily. Her purpose to help others, a social responsibility inspired by the leadership of her parents, is reinforced through her work at CWSS.

“We all need purposeful work that reaches beyond oneself; human nature is that we need each other,” says Page. “My parents were community minded and my mom always had us helping to collect donations for the shelter. Community was like family in those years, and I am seeking out people who share that mindset and take extra responsibility to better their communities.”

Enhancing community services through motivated volunteers and evolving partnerships are priorities that CWSS pursues in its vision to make the world a safer place. These purposeful connections result in concrete processes, interlacing best practices throughout our community and truly weaving us together.