Volunteer of the Year 2013 Awardees

In 2013, YCI sent 80 exceptional volunteers to Costa Rica, Ghana, Guyana, and Tanzania over the course of the year. Together, this dedicated group of young people contributed over 37,000 hours to our international programs.

YCI values our youth volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding performance and skills, upheld our values as representatives of YCI, and for being continuously involved in their local communities.  In recognition of these achievements, YCI is proud to present three awards this year: the 2013 International Volunteer of the Year award to Jessica O’Reilly; the Local Volunteer of the Year Award to Omar Mohammed Bakar; and, the Runner-Up award to Kayleigh Gaspari,

Jessica joined YCI during the summer of last year to volunteer in Guyana. Not only was it Jessica’s first time travelling outside of Canada, but also it was her first time on board a plane!

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Jessica at Kaieteur Falls

In Guyana, Jessica worked with students at a small education centre, conducting life skills session on self-esteem, communication skills, career guidance and  IT classes. Jessica made strong bonds within the community, attending three weddings in the Guyanese community.

Since returning to Canada, Jessica has become involved with many different organizations and continues to make a difference. She helps students with learning and behavioural disabilities at Trent University Oshawa and is part of a Pen Pal program where University students are paired with elementary students.

Aside from her school-related volunteer work, Jessica took the initiative to contact, Restoring Hope International, the foundation that built the educational centre she worked with in Guyana to let them know about her experiences at the centre. The Foundation was so impressed with Jessica that she spoke at the foundation’s annual fundraiser in New York last October.

Right now, she’s back in school at Trent University Oshawa, but she also sponsors two children that she taught at the educational centre. Now that’s dedication.

YCI also recognizes inspirational young leaders from the local communities that we serve. We’re proud to present the Local Volunteer of the Year Award to Omar Mohammed Bakar from Zanzibar.

Omar first became involved at YCI as a participant of the Emerging Leaders program in 2012. Omar was incredibly dedicated to the program and joined as a local volunteer after completing the Emerging Leaders program.

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Omar is a valuable asset in Zanzibar and has had a tremendous impact on every volunteer; supporting all YCI volunteers with advice, adjusting to the local community, and translation. He also goes out of his way to be a friend to volunteers, show them around, and to share cultural experiences. And of course, volunteers love him. Aside from his friendly nature, the Emerging Leaders program would not have been successful without his translation and facilitation assistance.

Omar is a very dedicated leader in his community and serves as an inspiration to the Emerging Leader participants along with the YCI volunteers. He likes to share what he has learned, not just from the Emerging Leaders program, but also from the volunteers who come from different backgrounds.

This year, we’re also pleased to honour and present the runner-up for the Volunteer of the Year, Kayleigh Gaspari.

Kayleigh was part of a custom project in Ghana with the IVEY Business School Sustainability Club. She is a strong and independent person, taking on additional responsibilities over the course of her placement to host extra entrepreneurship trainings to youth organizations that needed additional support. Kayleighy was able to develop and make clear, coherent and professional formal presentations while conducting eight workshops during the Micro-enterprise conference she and her group organized.

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Kayleigh is described as always ready to take initiative and stood up for every challenge that came her way. She is an inspiration to entrepreneurs who are encouraged by her examples.

So there you have it, our inspiring volunteers who have made differences in their own way. Become a YCI volunteer to make a difference yourself.