Du Phare connects students with the community

Matthew McCully
By: 
Matthew McCully
Staff Writer

Students from the Du Phare high school spent yesterday afternoon getting to know 21 different non-profit organizations in Sherbrooke, deciding where they will volunteer their time during the school year.
As part of the curriculum for the International Education Program (PEI), students are required to volunteer at community organizations for a minimum number of hours each school year.
Du Phare teacher and PEI co-ordinator Catherine Olivier organized yesterday’s one-stop shop, where students could learn about the different organizations and what their needs are, before deciding where to lend a hand.
“We want to inspire kids to get involved,” Olivier said.
According to Olivier, holding the salon and bringing all the groups under one roof helps match the kids with the right job.
“Some like working with seniors, others have different interests,” she said.
Melissa Turcotte, representing the CHUS Foundation, has been coming to du Phare’s salon for five years to recruit volunteers.
“This is a golden opportunity,” Turcotte said, adding that the kids who have volunteered in the past did a tremendous job.
“We need 30 volunteers per day,” she said, explaining that a big part of the job is making phone calls to solicit donations.
Turcotte said the kids work side by side, often competing to see who can log more donations.
She went on to say that the student volunteers have a high success rate for attracting donations, more than seniors or other community volunteers.
Turcotte said the amount raised on days when students volunteered for the foundation last year totalled around $50,000.
“There are 15,000 phone calls to make and 30,000 donors to contact,” Turcotte said. “I couldn’t do that by myself,” she said, happy to have the help of the Du Phare students.
Turcotte mentioned that some volunteers have returned to the CHUS Foundation to volunteer, even after graduating from the PEI program.
“It was a surprise to see them come back and want to continue,” she said.
Olivier said that once the students find an organization to support, they often exceed the minimum numbers of hours required for school.

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