Finding time to juggle school, work and a social life can be challenging for students. While some may find the workload restricts the time for extra-curricular activities, Stephanie explains that finding time to volunteer for Meals on Wheels has never been an issue. She explains that being matched up with kitchens close to school has been incredibly helpful. Stephanie often delivers a route from The Good Companions Centre kitchen, located on the Transitway between Lebreton Flats and Bay St. This has been a popular kitchen for many student volunteers like Stephanie, who find the location easy to access and convenient to travel back to school quickly. “Sometimes, I would complete a route in about an hour then head straight to class.”
Stephanie was born in Ottawa, but her family left for Lebanon for work opportunities shortly afterwards. They eventually returned to settle in Canada after the persisting conflicts in the region. Like any student, she has encountered her own set of struggles and personal issues while attending the University of Ottawa. “I struggled to cope with the stress of starting a new life in a different country away from my family and friends back home. I started seeking new opportunities that would help me explore and discover new aspects of my character.”
Stephanie has always been interested in the field of medicine and was given the opportunity to work as a research assistant at the Vascular Surgery Department of the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Her research supervisor, a vascular surgery resident, who became a friend and mentor, suggested she look into volunteer opportunities in the city. “He brought up the idea of volunteering at Meals on Wheels and so I decided to join the organization as a MOW server”.
She elaborates about juggling her time at school and her volunteer responsibilities. “As a full time student, I wanted a volunteering position that was both time flexible and not very demanding. And volunteering at MOW was the best option, as I got to volunteer based on my own availabilities.”
She notes that adding extra-curricular activities, such as volunteering with MOW, to a resumé can be useful for students planning to go on to grad school and beyond. She also observes that her time with MOW has been personally enriching: “I have gained a lot by volunteering at MOW. As a server, I learned how to interact with the elderly and the disabled and respond to their needs. It was very nice to hear the clients thank me for my time to serve them. In addition, I got to see how other people were living and the conditions they were in, which changed the way I look at things now.” She also notes that volunteering with MOW has given her the opportunities to socialize. “I got the chance to meet and train new volunteers, with whom I became good friends.”
Stephanie Hajjar has been a volunteer with us since 2015. She is one of many student volunteers at Meals on Wheels/La Popote roulante in Ottawa.