Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Taylor

Woman with hat and turtleneck sweater

Meet Karen Taylor!

Volunteer Role/Position(s): Refugee Support Team Member
Volunteering Since: April 2013
Languages: “English, some French and Spanish, and, thanks to the family I’m working with, a few very badly pronounced words in Kinyarwanda” 

Woman with hat and turtleneck sweater

Why do you love volunteering at our Centre?
“I’m grateful to have found a tangible way to contribute when the world’s ills can be so overwhelming. I can’t stop war, but I can find the right inner tubes for the stroller so one of the newcomer individuals I’m working with can make it through the snow to the laundromat. I can drive the family to the grocery store, the zoo, the library. I can introduce the family to computers (pretty wild to help someone write their first email ever!)

Also, I’ve met so many wonderful, generous people among the newcomer families and volunteers. And I have a new family to love.”

What is one thing you have learned by volunteering with newcomers?
“Slow down. It’s not all about the tasks, after all. Just hang out.

Also: so many things we take for granted are inaccessible to newcomers, especially those whose first language isn’t English. Getting a cell phone plan without your address on a piece of government ID. Setting up online accounts for everything, especially when every app is a little bit different. Reading the kids’ report cards? I can barely tell what they’re saying myself sometimes.

I find myself looking at everything around us with new eyes.”

What do you like to do when you are not volunteering?
“Make music, read, write, get out in nature, and see friends – in combination if possible!”