Through the Community Outreach Commission of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), students are collectively volunteering thousands of hours to help Kingston non-profits.
According to ASUS Vice-President (Society Affairs) Emma Farrell, the Community Outreach Commission is the Society’s second-largest commission, consisting of more than 300 volunteers serving on 10 committees.
“Because there’s such a plethora of volunteers, there [are] always so many ideas and so many different passions that come about,” Farrell said.
“My role is mainly supporting them [volunteers] as much as I can and helping carry out these plans.”
According to Farrell, the Commission attracts volunteers from different departments, ranging from arts and life sciences students to those outside the Faculty of Arts and Science.
“Each of these committees partners up with a local chapter of a Kingston charity—or more of a broader charity in Canada—and raises funds and awareness for these charities,” Farrell said.
“The purpose of these committees is kind of two-fold in that sense: both awareness and fundraising.”
Raising funds for the Canadian Cancer Society through Orientation as a Gael and an Orientation Coordinator has been one of Farrell’s top highlights in her role.
The commission’s broader charity of the year is Dawn House, a local charity that helps empower and support homeless and vulnerable marginalized women in Kingston.
“We host different fundraisers throughout the year more broadly in the commission to raise funds for that charity as well,” Farrell added.
“At the end of the year, we’ll calculate all of the costs that a committee may have spent and what their overall fundraising total is, and then we will just send those donations off to whoever our contact is within that partner charity.”
ASUS volunteers have been partnered with members of the City of Kingston for the second year in a row via the city engagement program, a notable aspect of the commission.
“We’ve had many talks and worked closely with the city’s marketing office as well to kind of find what demographic we’re reaching out to,” Farrell said.
“We’re really able to foster those good connections with the city.”
One of ASUS’s top priorities through their outreach initiatives is to connect with students who have not engaged in student government during their time at Queen’s.
“This year, we had the ArtSci Cup [which] was a really great way to reach out to people who had no clue what ASUS was. Hopefully, once we initially got contact with them, we could continue those streams of communication,” Farrell said.
Looking ahead to the summer months, Farrell spoke about the summer camps ASUS offers for Kingston youth.
“The summer camps haven’t run in person over the pandemic,” she said.
“It was really incredible to see over 400 registrants for the entire summer. We take children in the Kingston community, ages four to eight. We’re able to give out a great amount of financial aid and bursaries through that.”
Last summer, ASUS allocated approximately $5,000 in bursaries and they’re hoping to double that this upcoming summer to make the camp as “financially accessible as possible.”
“We have 14 full-time camp counsellors, who are all Queen’s students. It’s also a great way to employ students and get them involved in the community as well,” Farrell said.
“Anyone can get involved, and we really want to see more people engage with us.”
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