Contributed by Sarah Milburn and her English Business Class students at ILSC-Montréal
This session I decided to introduce the Business English class at ILSC-Montréal to the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility during their course. As part of the course experience I took them to volunteer at a local food bank., the same one I had taken my Global Social Issues group to volunteer at in October last year – Share The Warmth. It was, again, an incredible experience and our CSR committee here at ILSC-Montréal have decided that we want to work more often and more closely with this organization, so we are incorporating volunteering there into our monthly after-school activities for those students who want to take advantage of this wonderful experience. To tell you about the impact it had on the students themselves, here is a report from one of them, Marcelo, who is originally from Brazil, followed by some comments from some of the other students. I hope their words inspire you all to go out and volunteer in your community; it is such a valuable experience.
Share the Warmth Project – a report from Marcelo:
Last week, as a part of our corporate social responsibility class, we decided to volunteer at a local food bank called Share the Warmth, a local charity foundation which helps less fortunate people in the Montréal area. We agreed to make a campaign across the school to urge people to donate food for the association, which was very successful, and also, we agreed to spare one morning to help them in their activities.
On Monday morning, after packing all the food we had collected the week before, we left the school and headed to the association, which is located in the Pointe Saint-Charles neighbourhood, about 15 minutes away from school. I was excited about it, since it was the very first time I was going to do volunteer work. We all had a great time in the bus, talking about where we come from and what we had done during the weekend, and then we arrived at the food bank.
I have to admit that the place was much bigger than I imagined. Besides helping people by donating food, they also provide music classes, studying groups, and other types of educational services to the community, as we were told by the other volunteers.
We were separated in different groups, according to the association’s needs. I volunteered for the cleaning team, since I cannot cook very well; I thought that would be the place where I would be better used. So me, Jose, Olga and Cinthia joined Mathew, the person responsible for the cleaning, and as we went upstairs to start cleaning, we entered a big hall that looked a lot like an old church, which was a little creepy, and we sorted the work amongst ourselves. We spent most of the morning cleaning the big hall, and by the end, I was exhausted and hungry, but I still had enough energy to continue to help.
The whole experience was very amazing to me, since we were able to help this association that helps so many people, and also, because I had an opportunity to spend more time with my colleagues. In sum, I had a great time.
And here are some of the things the others in the group had to say about the experience:
“From my personal experience, I can definitely say, that I provided a helping hand to someone maybe I would never know or even without hearing “thank you.” For me it doesn’t matter, as I truly agree with Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.” Thanks to Business Class Program and our teacher Sarah, we had an opportunity to help the organization “Share the Warmth,” which mission is to awaken hopes and dreams by overcoming hunger and poverty. That is why I am sure that anyone is able to be a volunteer even for a day or an hour; you would be surprised how much it means for our society. Don’t you think that sometimes we all need a helping hand and warmth in our hearts?”
– Olga, Ukraine
“Have you ever felt complete by helping other people? Well that is my case today, after going to help in a foundation called Share the Warmth. I feel satisfied with my work and I want to help even more. I invite you to feel what I feel, I invite you to be a part of it. If we work together everything is possible.” – Manuela, Colombia
“First I want to say thanks to Share the Warmth to give us this opportunity to be volunteers and to have the chance to donate, to help poor people and homeless. You think that in Montréal they don’t exist but in real life yes, and they need a small part of us and they are grateful for what we give.” – Jorge, Colombia
“Now, I’m more interested in visiting here as a volunteer than before. We helped them just for 2 hours but that time was so valuable for me. I will never experience this activity in other countries and also can’t feel this full heart. Today’s activity in Share the Warmth was perfect. I’m really grateful for this experience.” – Seo Hee, Korea
“For me it was such a good experience in which I had the chance to see how these people volunteer at least every week of their lives to help people who really need it. To be honest, it was my first experience doing volunteer work and it was nice; it makes me realize how many people out there need help and how easy it is to help them. This experience somehow changed my way of thinking. Now I am considering doing some volunteer working and helping these foundations in the future.” – José, Venezuela
“I never thought that I can do such a wonderful and meaningful thing in Montréal before I come to ILSC. I knew, just like most students, that I came here to learn language and enjoy living in this lovely city. Until I chose English Business class, until we talked about ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ in the class, until our teacher Sarah gave us this mission, then I started realizing that we can do something different in this unknown city. I was thinking ‘How lucky am I!? I have money to buy food, to go abroad to learn. I am not under pressure of lack of food.’ Meanwhile , I told myself, ‘never waste food, try my best to help people,’ I don’t earn lots of money for the moment, but there is still different ways to share my warmth. Looking at the regular volunteers’ smile, I can feel warmth from them and how they treasure the life they have now. -24˚C temperature with 100˚C warm heart!” – Jenny, Taiwan
“Most of our perception about business mainly involves sales, advantages, and profits. However, today my Business English classmates and I got to understand that we could also do good things to other people through an activity called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which has become an important activity for many companies nowadays. That day when we departed, I believe that all of us had the same incomparable feeling of happiness and contentment that only helping others without wanting anything in return could give. I do believe that every small thing can also make differences and create changes. It, in fact, is our choice to stay where we are, or to start doing something to make the difference without caring how small it might be. Thank you ILSC for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful activity.” – Mink, Thailand