My commitment to volunteerism was borne of parental expectations; however, I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion that “one of the most beautiful compensations in life is that no person can help another without helping themselves.”

Narmin (centre) with other hamper packing volunteers

My parents came to Canada as African refugees in 1972. By the time I was born, my parents had survived re-starting their lives and had realized that their new country had much in common with their former homeland – notwithstanding the polar opposite weather patterns, of course. One commonality was the spirit of volunteerism. From an early age, my siblings and I were encouraged to join my parents in volunteer work, whether it was assisting seniors in the community or donating to the food bank. We were expected to “give back” as a way of celebrating the good fortune of making Canada our home.

So, why do I volunteer now? I volunteer because it’s the easiest way to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Upon entering the workforce in 1999, I lost access to the plethora of volunteering opportunities associated with student life. As a result, I began volunteering for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton (CBE). Although I am Muslim, Christmas is my favourite holiday because it brings ample opportunities for showcasing generosity and performing good deeds. To date, I have participated in 14 annual CBE campaigns. Along the way, I have rallied friends, colleagues and family members, to join me in packing and delivering hampers, sponsoring families, staffing donation desks and providing support at the annual walk-in days. For instance, in December 2012 I was joined by 40 RCMP colleagues to sponsor hampers for 8 families.

I’m looking forward to 2013’s CBE campaign and hoping that even more of my RCMP colleagues will join me. So, why do I choose to volunteer now? I volunteer because it’s the easiest way to “be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).

Many Great Ways to Help