Between Friends Developing Volunteer Skills in Persons with Disabilities (Volunteer-in-training)

The Cause

Between Friends envisions a community where people with disabilities reach their individual potential and are recognized as valued citizens.

The Between Friends Volunteer in Training (VIT) program was developed for participants of Between Friends or members of the public who have a disability. Many of our participants want to contribute back to the community and give their time, talent and resources to non-profits and charities. In order to help them to be successful, we developed the Volunteer in Training program.

These individuals will develop their skills as volunteers for 10 shifts over the course of the summer at Camp Bonaventure, our summer outdoor day camp at Riveredge Park, with the support and guidance from a Volunteer in Training Leader (VIT Leader). The purpose of the program is for these participant volunteers to learn the skills necessary to be successful as an ongoing and independent volunteer. The goal of our leaders is to ensure that any participants going through the VIT program are provided support, skill development opportunities, guidance & leadership to gain the skills they need to become a regular volunteer for Between Friends or another community organization. This program empowers our volunteer participants to gain independence and self-confidence while growing as leaders in a safe and supportive environment.

All VITs will go through an application and interview process that is designed to provide real-world experience when entering the volunteer or job market. Volunteers in Training will have a dedicated support person, in addition to their program leaders to help facilitate their volunteer tasks when needed. This person will solely be responsible for ensuring the Volunteers in Training accomplish their volunteer tasks and understand their role.

Who Will it Benefit?

Our participant members will benefit from the skill development and the real-world experience that comes from volunteering in our camp and in other volunteer roles. They will also gain self-confidence and independence from practicing these skills. The charitable organizations will benefit from the work of these individuals who can fill roles that might have been taken by paid staff and the community benefits from seeing these individuals as contributing members of society.

Besides the positive impact on the volunteers themselves, there is impact on our \"typically developing\" leaders and volunteers. It solidifies for them that with some additional support or modifications, these volunteers can contribute, be effective and carry out the responsibilities of a volunteer. The impact is greater than just in our programs. Our programs take place in the community so members of the public and partner facilities can also witness and appreciate the value of this program.