What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up?

How many of us can say that we knew from a young age what it is that we wanted to grow up to be? How many of us have wanted to become lawyers at 14 years of age and actually became lawyers by 25? Some of us, yes, but for most of us it doesn’t always pen out that way. I can remember my sister wanting to become a doctor since she was in high school. And today I can proudly say that she is about to start medical school this January. Unfortunately for me, knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life didn’t come as easily.

I started at Concordia University in September of 2011 as an Independent student. Being an Independent student allows you to “test the waters”, it allows you to try out different courses and see what your likes and dislikes are. I tried literally everything, from night grueling math classes, to marketing courses, to biology – really, I tried it all. I also started volunteering for the first time in my life, because honestly, I don’t really count Christmas caroling when I was 8 years old as an appropriate volunteer experience to put on my CV. This experience was different, it was a project organized by Concordia called ASB, or Alternative Spring Break, which allows students to choose a location such as Montreal, the Laurentian’s, or New Orleans, and leave for a week to do volunteer work. So I left for New Orleans in February with a group of students to work in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild the homes of those who lost theirs to hurricane Katrina in 2005. And, as cliché as it may sound, that was really the week that I knew that I wanted to be in the social work field. I wanted to help people achieve their true potential. It just fit, like a key in a lock and just like that I knew what field I wanted to study in and how I wanted to align myself in terms of career goals and aspirations. Coming back from this trip I immediately applied into the Human Relations program at Concordia. I started getting more and more passionate about helping others and took on more volunteer work such as volunteering at the Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre which is a centre who’s goals is to empower the community of Little Burgundy by offering programs for both parents and children alike. My time spent volunteering was focused on the children’s summer camp program as well as helping tutor the children in their after-school program in September.

By the time I was nearing my final year in University I started volunteering at Face a Face. This was by far the best learning opportunity that I ever could have dreamed of. I got to work with a wide variety of wonderful clients from whom I have been able to learn from. Those clients have made an impact in my life and I hope more than anything that they can say that I have done the same for them. I am currently doing my summer stage at Face a Face and will be graduating from Concordia with my bachelor’s this upcoming December. Volunteering has changed who I am for the better. It has given me the opportunity to learn, and grow, and it has given me a purpose and direction for my life. I look forward to the future and I am eager to take all the amazing things that I have learnt from volunteering and from school into my career. And to all those of you who still haven’t figured out your life’s purpose – don’t worry too much. Because in the end it always works out the way it’s supposed to be. And volunteering in your community is also an amazing way to figure out what you want to do; I can definitely say that it worked out for me.

Stephanie Underwood

Community Involvement and Development

What is community development and how can we make our community stronger? Community development is based on a group of people in a community who are willing to initiate social action in order to bring about the desired change that they wish to see happen. Without community development we cannot implement change within our communities.

So, what exactly drives individuals to commit to the development of communities? The drive comes from our motivation and our hunger to see a change in the world. It stems from and is guided by our values, principles, and assumptions that come from our backgrounds and cultures. It also comes from our personal experiences and our conscious decisions about what is right. These values, principles, and assumptions that we have shape our vision of the world as it should be, and ultimately motivate us to try and make it so. The major goal of community work is to improve the quality of life of a person or of a particular group in society, which leads to changing some important aspects of the way the community thinks or functions as a whole.

Why am I writing about any of this? Because our world desperately needs driven individuals who are willing to work hard and make change happen, to change lives, to change our own community and eventually all of society as we know it. Guided by our own life experiences, values, principles, and assumptions we can help to make a much needed difference in this world.

Volunteering is such an important part of my life and has been since I started University in 2011. I wanted to involve myself within the Montreal community and I wanted be a part of something bigger than myself. If you are reading this and you have the desire and the hunger to go out there and be a part of something bigger, I encourage you to dive in and explore the world of volunteering and community service and see just how rewarding and gratifying it is for yourself. Go out there and get involved. Get motivated. And be the change that you want to see happen in society.

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” – Nelson Mandela


How Volunteering Helped Me Get into Master’s

Some people are born knowing what they want to do when they grow up. I however, was not one of them. I had no idea what I wanted, all I knew was that I had a desire to help people. When I graduated CEGEP, I applied and got accepted into a Bachelor of Psychology. I loved it. I worked extremely hard in my classes and I volunteered in research labs. I was so inspired that I truly believed I was going to be the best psychologist in Montreal.

I graduated with distinction, applied for a Master’s in the Counseling and Educational Psychology program, and life was good. Then I got terrible news: my Master’s application was rejected. Once again, I was lost and had no idea what to do with myself. I had a whole year that was officially empty and I decided I would use this time to figure out what I want.
Then something interesting happened, two completely unrelated individuals in my life recommended that I build my CV during this year off by volunteering at a community organization. I didn’t know much about where to volunteer so I started looking on the volunteer bureau of Montreal website.

I found an organization called Face à Face (aka. FaF) that interested me for two reasons: first, FaF mostly works with adults and since I had only worked with youth, it would be an opportunity to expand my experience. Second, there was some psychology subject overlap and it would give me a chance to practice. I decided to give it a try. I applied, got accepted, and two years later I’m still here.

A lot has changed in those two years and FaF and other community organizations have been with me every step of the way. During my year off I volunteered at FaF twice a week, worked, and volunteered at another community organization tutoring troubled youth. The best part of my week was volunteering. Not only do you feel good for helping others but you also build lasting connections with individuals working in the community. Once again I was inspired and I knew that volunteering at community organizations helped me figure out who I really am. I met some wonderful people and made some lifelong friendships. I also gained valuable interpersonal skills.

I re-affirmed that I want to work with vulnerable people and make a difference in people’s lives. Through my volunteer work and my interest in youth, I came to believe that the best way for me to implement change starts when individuals are young through the education system. Based on this inspiration I applied for Master’s again. This time, I applied in a project concentration and proposed a project based in schools to help transition age youth in vulnerable situations. I also asked for a letter of recommendation from my volunteer supervisors and they both agreed. A couple months later, I got into Master’s! Around that time, I also got offered a job at FaF that I gladly accepted.

Now I have finished my first year of Master’s, I’m living in my own condo, and I’m working at FaF full time this summer. Through volunteering at two organizations, I came to learn about others that were also impacting the Montreal community. There are numerous projects happening all over the city by the numerous organizations that continue to help people every day.

In the end, volunteering not only allowed me to change other people’s lives, but it also gave me the drive and support to change my own.

Charlie Ohayon

Café Rencontre

Café Rencontre is a discussion/support group that offers its participants the opportunity to socialize and share feelings with others. Participants are encouraged to develop a support network amongst themselves to help break the cycle of isolation and to gain a sense of empowerment. Face à Face offers groups in English and French. Each group meets once a week, for eight weeks and focuses on various themes such as loneliness, self-esteem, communication and interpersonal relationships.

Are you Lonely?

Do you need support?

Do you find it hard to meet people?

If you are, Face à Face may be able to help you.

Since 1982, the Face à Face Listening and Intervention Centre has been dedicated to addressing the concerns of those in need.

Loneliness based on the absence of attachments and/ or of a sense of community is a feeling that is particularly prevalent in our society. As a result, many of us need to find ways to:

–        Decrease loneliness

–        Enhance self esteem

–        Develop coping strategies

–        Enhance communication

By joining the café recontre, you may be able to address some of these issues.

What is Café Rencontre?

The Café Rencontre is a discussion/support group that offers its participants an opportunity to socialize and share feelings with others.

Participants are encouraged to develop a support network amongst themselves, break the cycle of isolation and gain a sense of empowerment.

Face à Face offers groups in English and French. Each group meets once a week for eight weeks and focuses on various themes such as loneliness, self esteem, communication and interpersonal relationships.

Counseling Service

Are you having difficulty coping with problems in your life? Work through your feelings in a confidential environment with an empathic counselor.  8 week counseling sessions are available. Call the Centre to make an appointment.

  • Do you feel alone with your problems?

      Come drop by Face a Face and talk to us.

  • Would you like someone to listen and understand?

      Give us a call.

  • Are you struggling and need guidance?

    Life can present us with many challenges. So often we are left feeling confused and unsure of where to search for answers. If you are struggling with an overwhelming difficulty and you are unsure of where to go for help, the Face à Face Supportive Counseling Service may be for you.

  • Supportive Counseling

    –        Learn to develop coping strategies.

    –        Find solutions to relationship or family problems.

    –        Make important decisions with confidence.

    –        Begin your journey towards hope.

  • Counseling Services

    • Free of charge.
    • Humanistic approach. Person-Centered.
    • Individual counseling sessions with a trained, empathetic and objective counselor.
    • We will help you identify your needs and develop an action plan.
    • Weekly fifty minute meetings for a period of eight or more weeks. Confidentiality assured.
    • Contact the centre to make an appointment.
    • In a confidential and supportive environment, you can explore your feelings and thoughts, reflect on your needs and review your options. Counseling can help reduce your stress, alleviate some of your concerns and give you a sense of control over your life.

Listening and Referral Centre

A team of professionally-trained volunteers are available to listen to you and help you overcome your personal difficulties. We offer you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings in a welcoming and confidential environment. Together we can identify your strengths and personal resources to help you cope. A referral service is also available to inform you of your rights and obligations, as well as other resources available in the community.

Welfare for the Homeless

Face à Face will provide personalized service to individuals who are homeless or are at risk of becoming so. We can provide accompaniment, defend your rights and advocate on your behalf to help you obtain welfare benefits.

Housing and Accompaniment

We recognize the difficulties of finding an affordable and secure place to live. We offer various housing resources as well as an accompaniment service for those in need. A housing list, updated daily, is available at the centre. We also offer an internet station, a phone and a fax to facilitate apartment searches.