Vol 'n' tell

The Official Blog of Volunteer Richmond Information Services
  • A summer at Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives

    Every summer we are fortunate to welcome co-op students into the fold. What's it like to spend a summer with us? We have the down-low on good authority from one of our students in this blog post.

    The ginormous Richmond Community Services Database, one of the main projects for our summer students every year

    My main duty as a program assistant at Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives (RCRG) is to update the organization's various information resources, including the Seniors Directory, Vancouver Coastal Health Seniors Resource Guide, our informational brochures, and my biggest project: the Richmond Community Services Database (CSD). The CSD is a great information resource which lists all non-profit or government agencies that serve Richmond residents. I recommend using it when looking for any information regarding non-profit organizations or government agencies. It is updated yearly so information is always accurate.

    Working for a non-profit organization means you are always working for a great cause. This is probably the biggest perk of a job in the non-profit sector - all the work you do is to help people! When you are contacting the 400th of over 500 organizations for an update this sentiment really pushes you through. Whether it is knowing the information you are updating will provide help to the public in finding services they need, or taking grocery orders and shopping at Safeway for seniors (as the lovely Seniors department here at RCRG does) you can always take pride in knowing you are providing services that people are in need of.

    From a career and work experience standpoint, another great perk of working in a non-profit is that the majority of organizations have smaller offices than companies and agencies in the private sector or government. This has great advantages for a co-op student. First, it is less intimidating to walk into an office for the first time when it is smaller. It is less intimidating and easier to learn about how the organization runs and everyone’s different roles, including where you fit in. 

    Also, the small office environment gives you the opportunity to help out in all different areas and departments within the organization. It is easy to ask someone in Finance, Communications, etc. if you can help out in anyway. By doing this you are able to sample all different areas of what makes businesses, organizations, or agencies run and find what you love. This is perfect for a student trying to figure it all out. I am even stepping out of my job duties by writing this blog post for all of you!

    A non-profit organization is a great way for a student to transition from school to the workplace. For any students out there looking for a co-op placement or smooth transition after graduation, give a non-profit a try! My time at Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives has been a rewarding and educational experience.

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  • Introducing Catherine Koo

    We are pleased to introduce Catherine Koo, whom we are fortunate to have as one of our summer students this year. Catherine is a Program Assistant with our Seniors Community Support Services department. Here she is now with a few words about her summer experience.

    My name is Catherine, and I am a summer co-op student working as a program assistant for Senior Community Support Services at Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives (RCRG). I am currently in my fourth year at Simon Fraser University (SFU), studying human resources management and marketing at the Beedie School of Business. Born in Hong Kong but raised in beautiful British Columbia, my childhood consisted of fruit roll-ups, Beyblades, and Lizzie McGuire TV shows.

    I chose to apply for my current position initially because I have prior involvement volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society, SFU Summer Camps, and the City of Surrey, and those experiences have been extremely pleasant. I admire the values of these organizations, in that volunteerism brings people and communities together. Working in a non-profit organization has provided me with perspectives that you otherwise would not be able to obtain from working in a business setting.

    At RCRG, I am involved with the Senior Shopping Programs, Better at Home Services, and a tad bit of Community Action Ambassador activities. With the help of a very welcoming staff, I was able to quickly learn about all the senior community support services and get a sense of what the organization stands for - all within my first month of work. I also learned how to pronounce “Minoru Boulevard” correctly, that Safeway carries way too many types of apples, and the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist.

    During the remainder of my stay, I hope to continue providing services to the seniors living in Richmond, and to also gain a broader perspective of how to communicate and work with our volunteers and clients. So far, it has been an eye opening journey, and I am looking forward to learning much more at RCRG.

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  • The Wide World of Volunteerism: July 2015

    This month’s featured stories about recovery and homelessness from blogger Ray Wang are at once sobering and uplifting. In this edition of the Wide World of Volunteerism, Ray gives us two stories and two very different ways of giving to those on the streets. We finish off with something more heart lifting – dreams coming true thanks to an unexpected benefactor.

    26 Year Old Recovering Addict Gives Haircuts to the Homeless, But That's Not All

    Every day, Nasir Sobhani celebrates sobriety and the victory over his drug addiction. But this success only led him to set his sights even farther. Eager to give back, Nasir spends every Sunday giving free haircuts to the homeless. Even more important than the haircuts however, are the moments of human connection that can occur between client and barber.

    This cool new sneaker solves a really important problem for people with disabilities

    Nike’s new sneaker, the Lebron Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease, uses a zipper that extends around the back of the shoe instead of laces, letting people with movement disabilities, stroke victims, and amputees "peel" it open easily using only one hand. The shoe is much more accessible as a result, and offers independence and freedom to those with diverse abilities.

    The idea for such a shoe was sparked by teenager Matthew Walzer, who wrote to Nike three years ago in the hopes that he would have a shoe that he could wear and remove by himself by the time he went to college. Matthew didn’t think that anything would come out of the letter, but today he is everything that he wanted to be – independent, free, and a college student!

    Typographic signs aim to help the homeless

    Hand-letterer Kenji Nakayama and Christopher Hope started a project called "Homeless Signs" where they give low-income people on the streets $10 and a unique, hand-lettered sign. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about poverty in Boston. The project leaders also chronicle the lives of those they meet on tumblr, in the hopes of bringing to light their personal struggles: http://homelesssigns.tumblr.com/

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  • Non-Profit Video Picks: July 2015

    Blogger Ray Wang starts off this month’s Non-Profit Videos picks with a strong dose of perspective. The second featured video offers a pint-sized punch (or more accurately, lemonade), a drink which happens to come in a philanthropic flavor. And finally, no person can stay unmoved by our last story of minorities holding their hearts out to one another in a dangerous and hostile world. Perspective, punch, and poignancy – what more could you ask for from a blog post?

    First World Problems // Don't Take Life For Granted

    #FirstWorldProblems is a common hashtag used on social media to express “problems” sarcastically. For example, a person who can’t decide to eat sushi or a burger for dinner may tweet about the dilemma and include the hashtag, #firstworldproblems, in the tweet. Clearly, things like these aren’t problems. In this video, YouTuber QuietAssassin features a young homeless man who faces true societal challenges that many people in America struggle with today.

    A 10-Year-Old and Her Lemonade Stand for Change

    Vivienne Harr, a kind and ambitious 10-year-old, aims to set five hundred child slaves free by fundraising money through her lemonade stand. Her target was $100,000 and she met that goal quickly after 173 days. To continue her vision, Vivienne and her parents have started Make a Stand, a for-profit impact brand that sells bottled lemonade, to generate revenue and donate 5% of its net proceeds to leading organizations that help end child slavery.

    Muslim Nonprofits Raising Funds to Help Rebuild Black Churches

    To add salt to the wound after a deadly shooting in June in Charleston, South Carolina, which took nine black lives, eight black churches were burnt down in different southern states. To help rebuild the churches, three Muslim non-profit organizations: Arab American Association of New York, Muslim Arc, and Ummah Wide, have launched a campaign called Respond With Love to help fundraise money for rebuilding the churches. This sign of gesture illustrates the compassion and kindness that remain in the world today – despite the chaos.

    According to Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on pro

    According to com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" data-mce-href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" style="color: #1b8be0; font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: 1.7;">Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on product design, ways of working, risk-taking and many other aspects of business.”

    To inspire more females to enter the technology industry, established female engineers such as Kelly Ellis, Software Engineer at Google, and Shannon Spanhake, Deputy Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, share their motivation for entering the technology industry. They also share their thoughts on possible social solutions and products that can be developed if women are encouraged to pursue careers in technology.



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  • DIY Busy Bags for Pre-K and Kindergarten kids

    In addition to being a talented wordsmith, our volunteer writer Susan Young also happens to be a crafty mom! We asked her to share her experience with creating busy bags for her young child. But wait - what's a busy bag? We'll let Susan take it from here ... 

    When I first saw a post on one of my Facebook groups asking if anyone was interested in joining a busy bag exchange, I was immediately interested. I had no clue what busy bags were but I was keen on joining a group with a common interest and creating some toys which were educationally fun. So you ask, what is a busy bag?

    A busy bag is a child-friendly activity that fits inside a little bag (Zip lock bag) that can be pulled out anytime to keep your little ones busy, such as in waiting rooms, eating out at restaurants, or while traveling. Busy bags are usually DIY hand crafted projects that contain an element of learning. Luckily, I had the pleasure to share this exchange with a group of 9 talented crafty moms to create 9 bags for children, ages Pre-K to Grade 1 shown below.

    The 1st bag contained a felt ice-cream cone. It’s a very cute and simple creation made of colored felt, cut into ice cream and candy shapes. Your child could ask “What color do you want?” You could respond to your child by asking to build a color combination, afterwards pretend to eat it. Otherwise, sorting, lining them up randomly was another play option.

    The 2nd bag was called Sum-Thing’s Fishy. This bag contained 6 foam fish with paperclips, 1 magnet rod, 1 pond, and die. Kids would take turns catching the fish. The player with the highest total wins.


    The 3rd bag contained fuzzy straws and beads. Ideas for play were open ended. You could make bracelets, count, shape sort, or make patterns. Your child could practise eye hand coordination threading the beads.

    The 4th bag was food cut outs, to learn fractions. For younger children, it was like a puzzle for simple matching.




    The 5th bag was a felt ladybug with dots and numbers from 1 to 10. I made this bag so a child could place the correct dots for the number shown. Otherwise, they could count the dots and learn to recognize the numbers.

    The 6th bag was a baker’s kit with homemade playdough, cookie cutters, candles, spoon, wooden rolling pin, beaded cut outs, and cupcake holders. Your child could use their imagination and pretend to make anything.

    The 7th bag hadcolor matching using clothing pins and paint chips. You would match the clothes pin with the corresponding color. Your child could build good hand dexterity just practising pinching the clothes pins. As developing hand dexterity is the beginning of building strength and grip for writing.


    The 8th bag had colored chips for memory matching. Your child would turn the colored portion face down and flip each circle over to match.

    The 9th bag contained multi-colored craft sticks with velco at the ends. Your child could build shapes or letters by connecting them together.



    Most of us searched on Pinterest to get busy bag ideas. Pinterest is a visual social sharing site that allows you to search, manage, and bookmark large collections of themed images and content. You can build your own collection by pinning them for future reference or uploading your own content to be pinned by others. This site is great for getting inspiration and ideas for creating almost anything. There are many age-appropriate bag ideas which you can pin.

    Our goal was to assemble 9 of the same busy bags (Pre-K/Grade level) of $2 to $4 value. The end result, everyone would have 9 different bags after the exchange.

    What’s nice about this exchange is that everyone made a one-of-a-kind bag, using simple and inexpensive materials. It’s refreshing to see that imagination, motor skills, and concentration can all be accomplished playing with simple handmade creations. There were no rules or limits on how your child could play. They can make things up and play independently in a quiet environment while practising various skills. It’s also something that parents can do together with their child. I also liked the fact that you can take these bags anywhere, as it’s small and lightweight for transportation.

    My take away, from this experience is that I got a chance to connect with a few others in the community while sharing something I like to do - when I have the time to do it! However, it was fun and interesting to see each other’s creations and to see the fruits our labour - seeing the kids enjoy their new toys.

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  • Celebrating Our Child Care Community: Annual Gala Dinner

    “Food! Fun! Costumes! Games!”

    These are words one normally finds when describing a carnival or children’s birthday party, but in the case of the Annual Gala Dinner celebrating Richmond’s Child Care Providers, they could not be more accurate.

    Richmond CCRR staff with their entry into the Centerpiece Challenge!

    May has always been a favourite month for Child Care Resource and Referral Centres, and with the onset of spring we like to reconnect with our members and take time to celebrate their achievements. In the early 1980s, this resulted in the BC Daycare Action Coalition to request that one week out of May be annually declared Daycare Week. The City of Vancouver agreed, and over time the celebration continued to expand until 2002 when the Lieutenant Governor formalized that “May be celebrated as Child Care Month”. Since that time, CCRRs and child care communities across BC come together every year to celebrate the hard work and dedication that those in the child care field demonstrate every day.

    Game of Thrones

    In Richmond, we celebrate our providers with a themed and wildly fun Annual Gala Dinner. Part of the festivity includes a centerpiece design contest as well as a costume contest which must both be related to that year’s theme. In years past, we’ve had topics from the Wild West to Hollywood to Groovy 70’s to Childcare Idol. This year’s theme was simply ‘Games’, and every group ran with the idea, spawning beautiful and creative centerpieces that surpassed expectations and ranged from board games...

    Candyland Centerpiece

    to video games....

    Candy Crush!

    to sports games...


    to a throne of games.  

     Throne of Games

    Centerpieces were marked anonymously and set around the tables, and attendees were encouraged to walk around and vote for their favourite. Many teams such as the nautical “Go Fish!” table to the hazardous Snakes & Ladders swamp tried to lure votes by setting out treats… but it was the Ladies Game Night with celebrity chess pieces that stole the hearts, and votes, of the crowd.

     Girls Game Night

    Almost more impressive than the centerpieces were the attendees themselves!  A costume dress code was in effect for many participants… there was a deck of cards running around, Candyland characters, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlett, as well as some of the cast from Game of Thrones. Even the presenters dressed up as Monopoly men -and every table got into the swing of things by competing for their chance to raid the buffet table.

    A Three-Eyed Crow and Hipster Jamie Lannister

    Before wrapping the night with a few rounds of Bingo, Malcolm Brodie, mayor of Richmond, re-declared that the tradition of ‘May is Child Care Month’ would continue in Richmond.  Cake was the perfect complement to finish the night, and everyone went home in high spirits. We can’t wait to see what everyone dreams up next year!

    "Because we care" Cake

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  • Non-Profit Video Picks: June 2015

    The most powerful story we can tell is always our own. In June's edition of The Non-Profit Video Picks, "self-aware" supermodel Cameron Russel unpacks and acknowledges her social privilege and its problematic legacy, and Brooke of BC Children's Hospital talks about her long struggle with cancer. We often need these bravely shared and intensely personal stories to help us see important social issues from new perspectives. We finish off with Harvard professor Michael Porter's discussion on how we can address some of those social issues. Stories brought to you by blogger Ray Wang

    Cameron Russell: Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model

    “Image is powerful. Image is superficial." Cameron Russell, a young supermodel, addresses a few social issues in her Ted Talks. First, she unpacks the modelling industry’s racial bias: she shares a shocking statistic that less than 4% of runway models are people of colour. This bias distorts how people judge and understand beauty. Cameron admits that it was difficult to talk about this bias, considering that she benefits from it greatly as a Caucasian model. 

    Cameron also revealed the non-glamorous aspect of modeling, which is that she’s insecure. She’s insecure about her looks because her appearance gets judged by photographers, publications readers, etc. all the time. Cameron’s advice to young girls who aspire to be models in the future is that they should be more than models. They can be scientists, presidents, anything – the choice is up to them.

    Brooke's Story

    Brooke went to the hospital thinking she had pneumonia, but instead discovered that she had a rare type of lung cancer. Despite this catastrophe, Brooke remains strong even through the removal of part of her lung, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation. And thanks to the support of the BC Children’s Hospital, Brooke remains healthy as possible. If you want to support BC Children’s Hospital and help young children and people such as Brooke, please learn more about how you can volunteer.

    Michael Porter: Why business can be good at solving social problems

    Contrary to popular belief, Michael Porter, a renowned Harvard professor and strategist, believes that businesses can in fact help non-profit organizations by creating profit and wealth (which leads to taxes) that can be used for charitable causes. Moreover, Porter believes that social organizations that use business models are ones that are sustainable in the long-run.

    According to Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on pro

    According to com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" data-mce-href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" style="color: #1b8be0; font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: 1.7;">Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on product design, ways of working, risk-taking and many other aspects of business.”

    To inspire more females to enter the technology industry, established female engineers such as Kelly Ellis, Software Engineer at Google, and Shannon Spanhake, Deputy Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, share their motivation for entering the technology industry. They also share their thoughts on possible social solutions and products that can be developed if women are encouraged to pursue careers in technology.



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  • The Wide World of Volunteerism: June 2015

    Change can be tough, but it is always inevitable. In this month's Wide World of Volunteerism, blogger Ray Wang brings you stories about Beijing's tough new stance on smoking and on women's ongoing struggle for equality at the executive level. We finish however, with a more lighthearted look at fundraising behind the scenes

    Indoor smoking has finally been banned in a country where 45% of men smoke daily (264 million people). This initiative is the biggest step that the Chinese government has taken to reduce smoking and improve the country’s health. Those who choose to smoke indoors will be fined $10,000 Yuan, which equates to roughly $1,600 USD. The World Health Organization is calling this initiative “a quantum leap forward.”

    Women in leadership: Walking the gender tightrope

    Image source: The Globe and Mail

    Gender inequality remains an ongoing issue in the business world. Currently, only 16% of board of directors and fewer than 5% of top jobs (CEO positions) are held by women. Moreover, women are more likely to hit a “glass cliff” which means they are less likely to be selected for leadership roles. While this issue may seem to only impact women on the surface, men are affected, too. Overlooking competent and qualified female professionals for leadership roles will cost companies the chance to maximize their growth and potential.

    Image source: The Guardian

    Like many organizations, charities employ cold-callers to generate funds and recruit participants for events. Unsurprisingly, it is a challenging job. In this article, an anonymous cold-caller for a charity shares short and funny stories on the challenges he faces. It makes you want to cut them some slack next time you receive a cold call!

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  • Together Time

    Our Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) Centre's Together Time playgroup is here to help children learn and explore during the crucial years of their development. In our latest update, volunteer blogger Susan Young finds out how Together Time has been making an impact on the lives of local toddlers and their parents.

    Exciting playgroup activities at Together Time

    When a child takes their first step on their own, a new stage of development begins. Through exploration, major leaps in learning, language, and physical development take place.

    Intellectually, children begin to listen and comprehend more as they develop from babies to toddlers, and then preschoolers. For parents, it’s an exciting to see their children develop interests, master skills, and become more independent. However, it can be challenging at this stage to find the appropriate educational activities and spaces to help their children developmentally.

    With this in mind, “Together Time” was created to promote quality time, where children and parents can actively participate and learn together. This program aids in preparing children for kindergarten by incorporating some structure into their learning environment.

    Together Time is a free program that is held every Monday and Wednesday between 9 am - 11 am at the Cook Early Learning Center, inside Cook Elementary School. Starting in September 2015, Together Time will take place every Monday and Wednesday from 9:15 am - 11:15, also at the Cook Early Learning Center. The school offers a safe and friendly environment where parents and children can explore, play, and learn.

    Children and parents are encouraged to participate during circle time by singing songs, reading, cooking, and then enjoying snacks and free play using the crafts and toys available. Parents can also find resourceful information on parenting and community information and hear from guest speakers.

    Field trips are also planned once per month and is an excellent opportunity to build connections in the community by visiting venues like the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Center.

    Together Time playgroup participants on a field trip to the pumpkin patch

    For toddlers who are constantly on the move, this is a great place to actively engage curious minds. The majority of children who attend this program are 1.5 to 2.5 year olds, but the program is open to babies as well.

    For children who are not yet ready for preschool, this free program is a an excellent opportunity for parents to get together with other parents and let their kids expel some energy on mindful activities early in the day.

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  • Child Care Provider Profile: Baby Panda Childcare Centre

    In this edition of the Child Care Provider Series, we feature Baby Panda Childcare Centre, an infant and toddler care facility located in the heart of Richmond. Esther Mei shares her experiences in the field and offers some advice for those interested in entering Early Childhood Education.




    The only thing cuter than this baby panda is two baby pandas

    What made you want to become a child care provider?

    All children are angels. I love children, so that made me want to help them grow and develop in a happy, healthy, and free environment.

    What’s your favourite part of operating a child care facility and your least favourite?

    My favourite part of operation is Documentation and setting up Programming.  Documentation helps us to find out/learn about each child’s development needs, and programming helps us in creating activities to balance their growth and development.


    My least favourite part happens on Graduation Day: I always feel sad saying goodbye to the children and the families.

    How do you promote your business?

    By word of mouth: referrals by parents and previous parents. 

    At Baby Panda, hands-on learning is synonymous with fun.

    What does professionalism mean to you?

    Attitude! We love children and try to think and care for them the same way as their parents while using our professional knowledge.

    What challenges do you face as a child care provider? How do you overcome them?

    Helping parents to understand what we are doing. Why we are doing it this way, what future benefits this brings for the children…etc. 

    Great communication with patience.


    What do you find parents are looking for most in a child care provider?

    Safe environment, caring and experienced staff, great programs and management.

    Great communication.

    What’s your favourite activity to do with children?

    Outdoor free play time. We play Peekaboo, Hide and Seek, and also the children learn how to solve problems by themselves!


    Learning through light and shadow play.

    Do you keep in contact with other child care providers? Would you say there is a cohesive child care community in Richmond?


    Are there any services not available in Richmond that you think child care providers and/or parents would benefit from?


    Do you have any advice for people new to the child care field?

    For those wanting to become an Early Childhood Educator (ECE):
    Loving children is the foundation of the childcare field.

    Talk to other ECE providers, if you have any questions feel free to ask them.

    Talk to other professionals such as school teachers, speech specialists...etc.

    Take the time to go to Professional Development Courses.

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