Only a matter of time Volunteering builds character in a person and the Hamilton community

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By: Elizabeth Ivanecky

Time is money, and your time at McMaster is no different. I don’t have to remind us all how much coffee we bought for those all-nighters and of course the big kahuna — our tuitions.

So yes, your time at Mac is money, no doubt about it, but you can make it count for more than that. Time is one of the most valuable things you can give when it comes to volunteering. And volunteering in the Hamilton community is an eye-opener into the inner beauty of both the city and your friendly neighbourhood Hamiltonians.

There is more to living in Hamilton than simply spending your time studying at Mac. Although it requires a larger effort, volunteering in the Hamilton community is a worthwhile pursuit in that you will feel a sense of belonging in Hamilton instead of simply being a watchful observer on the outside looking in. Hamilton is home to many people who at first came here as outsiders, and it can be your home too if you decide to move past the horror stories you’ve heard of Hamilton.

Instead of fueling these rumours, try volunteering in “that part of town” and you’ll start to see the real people behind these tall tales. But the experience of coming up with your own understanding of Hamilton is not one that should be taken lightly — it involves acknowledging someone else’s truth in their lives.

In this way, giving your time to listen, help and have fun with local Hamiltonians will serve you all the while since you’ll be showing Hamiltonians that you care and want to be more than just one of those Mac students who take up so much space on the city bus.

Hamilton may be daunting to some of us at first-glance, but I assure you, when you give the city a chance it will surprise you. If you are a new Hamiltonian, then my advice would be to start volunteering in Hamilton with a group of Mac students through volunteer placements with CVA. If these placements don’t suit you, you can always find other placements through Volunteer Hamilton.

I have volunteered at St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas for over five years and the experience has taught me priceless lessons in responsibility, communication and connection. For instance, when you make a commitment to be somewhere, you need to keep your word because you’ll learn that people will begin to depend on you over time.

Good communication will help you understand how you can answer to another’s needs and wants, but connection doesn’t necessarily require good communication. Sometimes just the constancy of someone’s presence or kind touch as in a handshake is enough to feel the warmth of someone’s care.

So at the end of the day, here’s my version of the standard ‘time is money’: time is character too. How you choose to spend your time reflects who you are as a person.

So, do you really want to be the next person to spread another strange story about downtown Hamilton?

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