Southeast Newcomer Services (SNS) has launched a new volunteer program that it hopes will carry multiple benefits for the region's newcomers.
Program coordinator Sarah Mehler said that the volunteer program was started last month. SNS expects that participating newcomers will be able to get more involved in their communities, meet new people and improve their English.
"We're encouraging newcomers to volunteer within our community," said Mehler. "It will educate newcomers about their communities, as well as provide education to current citizens about newcomers who are moving into their region."
When clients come to the SNS office to access the organization's services, SNS will inform them of the volunteer program.
"They come in and chat with me, we go over the places that I have available for them, they pick out what they want to do, and then we go have a meeting with that organization," said Mehler.
"Then they decide what area they want to be in, and how much they want to commit to it," said Mehler.
There isn't a fixed amount of time that volunteers have to commit, either, she said.
Mehler said a lot of organizations are already on board – the St. Joseph's Hospital, the Hillcrest Early Learning Centre, the Souris Valley Theatre, the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum, the Envision Counselling and Support Centre, the Estevan Salvation Army, Hillview Manor, Creighton Lodge, the Estevan Humane Society, the Estevan Church of Christ and more.
Several people have already joined the volunteer program.
"I have two women signed up at two different volunteer places, and they're really loving it," said Mehler. "They're having fun."
They have been helping out once a week at the hospital's day program, and at the Hillcrest centre.
Each participating organization has multiple options for volunteers, too.
Mehler expects that the number of participants in the volunteer program will expand in the fall. Summer can be a slow time, she said, as a lot of people are out of town, and the program was launched just a few weeks ago.
There isn't a limit on how many people they can accommodate in the program, she said.
Mehler predicted the volunteer program will be beneficial for the community as a whole, and not just for newcomers.
"We think the program will help with social inclusion within our community," said Mehler.