3 min read
17 April 2024

Volunteering keeps Nick in love with Toronto. Here's why

Susan Fuehr, Communications Consultant

Nick Bello looks forward to any time he gets to volunteer for WoodGreen.

It’s why he’s been at it for more than 15 years.

“There’s a real high that comes with volunteering,” he says.

Nick is one of more than 740 volunteers who give of their time, skills, energy and talents every year at WoodGreen.

♦Interested in giving back? We have a volunteer role for YOU!♦

Nick became part of the WoodGreen family in the same way so many people do; he simply searched “volunteering in Toronto” and then added a cause he felt passionately about: newcomers to Canada.

“I came here as an infant when my parents fled a military coup in Chile in the 1970s,” he says. “I saw the challenges they had in a new country, not knowing the language or culture, and I wanted to help make it easier for someone else.”

a man in a green sweater is pictured next to a quote about being a volunteer

Volunteering has unexpected benefits

Nick began leading English Language Conversation Circles through WoodGreen’s Newcomer Services. Once a month, he meets with a group of newcomers at the Danforth/Coxwell branch of the Toronto Public Library to discuss anything and everything, from how to use the TTC to the best way to meet your neighbours.

“If they’re building a new life here, I just want them to feel comfortable so they can advance their personal and professional careers … because it can be a real culture shock for some.”

While he hopes he’s able to help make the transition easier for newcomers, Nick acknowledges there are benefits to volunteering he never anticipated.

“It’s great to hear new perspectives on your city and hear how someone new to the city thinks it’s such a great place. It’s really refreshing.”

WoodGreen’s values align with his own

Now that he works entirely from home, (“I stare at screens all day!”), Nick says volunteering is the change of pace he needs. He says he meets people who have led interesting lives and whom he might never have crossed paths with otherwise.

⇒Conversation circles create a welcoming ‘tiny Toronto’ for newcomers

Although there are countless worthwhile organizations in the city in search of volunteers, Nick says he has stayed with WoodGreen because “their values align with the things I believe can really improve Toronto.”

“Also, I find WoodGreen does a great job making the volunteers feel appreciated and welcome.”

Setting an example for his kids

Though the motivation to start volunteering came from watching his parents struggles, Nick now says he sees the positive example he’s setting for his children, ages 12 and 15.

“They see me volunteering and know how important it is in my life. So I just hope that's a tradition they'll carry on as they get older,” he says.

“Because it feels good to help make Toronto a better place.”

Want to get involved?
See our current volunteer opportunities.

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