Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Connecting alumni to volunteer opportunities

Sue Bates, left, and Sarah Indewey stand outside Summerhill after discussing the benefits of the recently launched Queen’s Alumni Volunteer Opportunities Directory. (University Communications)
At Queen’s, there is never a shortage of dedicated alumni looking to give back to the university. Connecting those alumni with meaningful volunteer opportunities is a daunting task.

However, that just got easier.

The Queen’s Alumni Volunteer Opportunities Directory, launched in April through the Department of Alumni Relations and recently expanded to the greater Queen’s community, is an online tool providing links between alumni and available volunteer positions, both on campus and around the world.

From helping out at the numerous branches of the Alumni Association, to mobilizing classmates for a reunion, to being a speaker or acting as a mentor for current Queen’s students, there are literally hundreds of volunteer opportunities available.

Sarah Indewey, who oversees Volunteer Relations and Reunions in the Office of Advancement’s Department of Alumni Relations, says that the Volunteer Opportunities Directory program is similar to a job application process. An interested volunteer can review the positions available and fill out the online form, which is then reviewed by staff to facilitate the best fit.

[On the Queen's Alumni Volunteer Opportunities Directory] there’s all sorts of information on everything to do with the volunteer lifecycle from recruitment and orientation through to recognition and, continuing to be involved once your current role is over. Once volunteers are engaged, there are opportunities for them to take on greater responsibilities if they like.

– Sarah Indewey, Volunteer Relations and Reunions, Department of Alumni Relations

Integral to the initiative is engagement, Ms. Indewey explains. The university recognizes the importance of volunteers and their unique contributions. The directory is aimed at making the connections both effective and efficient.

“Alumni volunteers are an invaluable resource to the university. Queen’s would not be the same without them and the intellectual capital they contribute – their perspectives, experience and expertise, not to mention their spirit and loyalty. Queen’s is very fortunate, and we are working hard to make the volunteer experience meaningful and enjoyable,” she says.

The site also provides a wealth of resources for prospective volunteers as well as for those looking for support.

“There’s all sorts of information on everything to do with the volunteer lifecycle from recruitment and orientation through to recognition and, continuing to be involved once your current role is over,” Ms. Indewey says, adding that other topics like risk management round out the growing site. “Once volunteers are engaged, there are opportunities for them to take on greater responsibilities if they like.”

More information

Visit the Alumni Relations website for more information, and to watch a short video on the directory. Further questions and/or suggestions can be directed by email to Maryanne Wainman, Alumni Officer, or by calling ext. 78488.

An example is Sue Bates (Artsci’91), who is a past president of the Kingston Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association. She currently serves on the Association Board of Directors as the Executive Vice-President, Volunteer Recruitment and Recognition. She also is a university councillor and sits on a Senate committee. While she proudly states that her “blood runs tri-colour,” her volunteer journey started off in 1998 helping out at an alumni branch while living abroad.

After returning to Kingston nine years ago, she became more involved with the university and volunteering.

Her reasons are simple but at the same time noble and hopeful.

“I know I’m not going to find the cure for cancer or discover the next new technology or change the world in any way, but I know some of our students will,” she says. “So if I can give back in any way to support that, that’s why I do it.”

And while helping the university is important she’s also very aware that Queen’s alumni are a big part of the institution’s past, present and future.

“I think generally alumni are very committed to Queen’s and to giving back to the institution. You find that with the association’s board, with its branches, with our reunion co-ordinators, these are all people who give up a significant chunk of time,” Ms. Bates says. “There are so many opportunities for people to volunteer their time and give back to their communities, the fact that they decide to give back to Queen’s in such a significant way, speaks volumes.”

When first rolled out earlier this year, the Volunteer Opportunities Directory was focused on volunteer positions available through Alumni Relations. The goal was to start small with a “test run.” With a solid foundation, they are now ready to expand from that initial success.

“We’d like to encourage the Queen’s community to participate – departments, student organizations and other groups. Anyone with an interest in connecting with alumni volunteers, we can help you,” Ms. Indewey says.

Response to the directory has been positive and Indewey feels that is partly because the program was developed in close collaboration with volunteers from the QUAA board.

Already, since expanding, there is proof that the directory works. The School of Graduate Studies recently posted a volunteer mentorship position for its career week in October; they received more than 30 applications.