In 2016, Maria left Venezuela and moved to Canada with her son Luis. Leaving behind a life of danger and turmoil, Maria set out to build a new home for her and her son. Faced with a new country, new language and a new lifestyle, the refugee centre advised Maria to volunteer in the community.
Maria met many new friends while volunteering. The range of activities offered by the centre were extensive including many youth and recreation programs. Eventually, Maria began volunteering as a crossing guard for neighbouring schools. She found a subsidized spot for Luis in a recreation-based after school program and slowly integrated in the community. After a year of volunteering, Maria already began feeling a sense of family and friends from all the new people she met.
As the second summer rolled around Maria started a full-time position with a summer camp. At first the camp could not offer compensation, but instead offered in-kind compensation where Luis attended camp for free. After a very successful summer of camps, Maria began a paid position with the camp to support their after school youth programs.
Despite being new to Canada, volunteering helped Maria integrate into the community. She landed a stable job and Luis made many friends. With all the Spanish speaking friends, Maria started to feel at home. She still aspires to get back into her field of interior design, but for now she enjoys volunteering in the community and making a difference for her, her son and many other children in her neighbourhood.