Bruce has been volunteering for decades. “I have volunteered in a variety of capacities for the past 40 years, beginning with a Lions Club (opens in a new window), then with Big Brothers & Sisters (opens in a new window), Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) (opens in a new window), Atlantic Film Festival (opens in a new window) Board of Directors and the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) (opens in a new window) here in Penticton. I have recently joined Habitat for Humanity (opens in a new window) as a volunteer in the new ReStore outlet.”
In 2017, Bruce started volunteering with the Neil Squire Society after attending a presentation about the Society’s work with people with disabilities. He began working with the Distance Computer Comfort Program, which enables qualifying individuals with disabilities to access basic computer training for free from the comfort of their home.
“As a former educator, I know the importance of continuous learning and was impressed with this concept of helping others develop skills, and to do so via distance technology,” he says.
Bruce has tutored two individuals to date, both of whom are located on Vancouver Island. “I think the greatest joy I have had was when the client suddenly ‘discovers’ that they learned something new,” he says. “What is interesting, however, is that they probably already knew what to do, but it took some practice, navigating through the technology and discussion to reveal the answers. Those ‘Aha’ moments are priceless, both for me and for the client.”
Although the classes are hosted on Blackboard Collaborate (opens in a new window), Bruce finds the online medium still works for developing a personal connection. “Although we have not met face-to face, in one case, we have looked up our Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. […] We both said that the person ‘looked exactly like the person we had in our mind’s eye’ and then we would laugh! I find the connection using this computer technology still allows for all of the personal interaction necessary for the teaching we are doing.”
Bruce finds volunteering to be an enriching experience where he learns both about the organization and their clients. “Throughout my volunteer work, I have always found that I learn much more than I could ever offer to the organization. I learn about the organization, the scope of their work, the impact they have on communities and individuals, and the magnitude of gaps that these organizations are trying to close. More importantly, I learn about the individuals I work with and always come away with insight and knowledge about the challenges they face.”
Bruce firmly believes that volunteering has changed his life and hopes to continue working with the Neil Squire Society. “Volunteering has given me the opportunity to expand my own learning, and to build relationships with people I might otherwise never have met,” he says.
He concludes, “One quote that I feel captures the essence of volunteering is from the humanitarian Albert Schweitzer: ‘Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.’”