Over the next 3 weeks, leading up up to thanksgiving, we are going to be sharing with you some of the many things we are thankful for in our community and also the ways you can help us give back to the community.

I can speak highly to the impact of volunteerism, especially at Cyrus Centre. I first began my time at Cyrus Centre as a volunteer, July 2011. I remember my first shift vividly. It was intimidating. These weren’t kindergarten students or Sunday School toddlers. They’re teenagers, young men and women. However, the feelings of intimidation I experienced were misled. While at times their language was colorfully painted with harsh expletives, they’re children in need of love, like you and me. They were youth that just wanted me to sit down with them, play a game of cards and listen to them as they told me about their day.

When I first walked through the door as a volunteer, I wasn’t much more than a teenager myself. I definitely did not feel at all equipped or knowledgeable to be supporting individuals facing circumstances far more tragic than anything I had ever experienced myself. But what I quickly learned was that you didn’t need to be an experienced counselor, or come from situations similar to theirs in order to build a relationship or have a positive influence. All I needed to be was an ear to listen and a heart to care. It wasn’t about having the right words to say, it was about just being there. Consistently showing the youth, week after week, that they were valued and loved, simply just by showing up.

Cyrus Centre is a place for youth who may have never felt like they belonged. Perhaps they’ve never known love. For some, it’s the first place they have ever felt safe. It can also be the first place a youth makes a relationship with someone who has their best interests in mind. Cyrus Centre is a mosaic of people seeking to belong and in that I found that everyone and anyone belongs at Cyrus Centre. Perhaps not because they find themselves on the streets or because they have nowhere else to go. It may simply be because they need the comradery, relationships, consistency, structure, laughter, or hugs.

In all these things though, youth weren’t the only ones who found these things at Cyrus Centre. Volunteers find that here. Staff find that here. Other service providers in the community find that here. It’s a place where everyone is welcome. Just like our youth come from different walks of life, so do our volunteers. Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization and the reason we get to keep our doors open every single day of the year. Every volunteer has something different to offer the youth. Perhaps its baking with them, or playing the same card game for 4 hours straight, or sitting silently beside a youth who just doesn’t want to be alone.

There’s a lot of reasons people volunteer. For some it’s to feel good about themselves. Others its to build a resume. It might be a way to utilize free time. Volunteering is a way to give back to the community and help those in need. Whatever the reasons and whatever the place, Cyrus Centre encourages people to actively pursue volunteerism. We understand that Cyrus Centre may not be the right fit for everyone looking to volunteer, we encourage you to pray, search your heart, and reach out to the community to find a place to give of your time.

-Maren Kroeker, Community Development Worker, Cyrus Centre Ministries

If you are interested in volunteering at Cyrus Centre, please contact Joyce (Abbotsford Cyrus Centre) at 604-859-5773 or Trevor (Chilliwack Cyrus Centre) at 604-795-5773.