We at the Centre for Autism Services Alberta are so proud to have such a wonderful group of volunteers. These individuals help with everything from soccer to cooking, art to translating languages for families, skating to socializing, and so much more!
Our volunteers give their time, share their talents and strengths, and help make the Centre an amazing place in which to participate, learn, and grow.
We want to recognize and celebrate the amazing work of this volunteer, who is currently the Centre’s longest-serving volunteer and has been with us since 2017!
Guzal has been an integral part of our team, mainly volunteering with our Teen Social Night program which provides an opportunity for Autistic teenagers to hang out together, chill, play games, talk, and make and maintain friendships. She loves to join the group out in the community for fun activities such as going to the movies, bowling, mini golf, and board game cafés to name a few!
Working within the same role over time means that Guzal is able to provide the teens with consistency and form strong bonds with participants which makes a big impact. We admire Guzal’s dedication and appreciate that she encourages the teens to explore their interests. She fosters an inclusive and supportive environment and radiates kindness. Her positive attitude and warm demeanour make her approachable and the teens really feel comfortable with her. Her years of experience in this program allow her to provide valuable insight and support new volunteers, which she does happily. Guzal takes initiative and is always the first person to step up and help out at events and with extra projects.
When asked about her role, Guzal shared, “the Centre is dedicated to inclusivity, and I find it extremely rewarding to watch the social confidence and sense of independence evolve in each of the participants I get to work with. I am grateful to the Centre for what it provides in terms of enriching programming both for participants and volunteers.”
When she’s not volunteering, you can find Guzal reading, traveling, hiking, and gardening. Thank you, Guzal, for your outstanding dedication and commitment to the Centre!
We want to shine a spotlight on our amazing volunteer, Saveena, who joined our team in November 2021 and has been making an incredible impact ever since.
Saveena began her volunteer journey in our pre-k and kindergarten classes, where she dedicated her time twice a week to assist children in learning experiences in various areas including academics, communication, socialization, motor skills, and self-help skills, with the goal of increasing independence and maximizing school readiness. Staff was amazed by her dedication and consistency; Saveena rarely missed a day and quickly became an invaluable member of our team that we counted on!
In addition to her reliability, what sets Saveena apart is her exceptional ability to develop strong relationships with the students. She put in a lot of effort to get to know them and their needs, and her calm and cool demeanour was particularly helpful when the class got busy and loud. Staff appreciated her flexibility and willingness to help out wherever needed.
Because of Saveena’s superb volunteer service, we chose her to help pilot a new role as a “Volunteer Translator”. This role helps bridge communication gaps between families and our clinical team. Saveena was matched with a family who speaks Punjabi and worked closely with us to create all necessary volunteer documents and procedures. After the program was developed, she continued on, providing translating services in the family’s home since October 2022.
When asked about her new role Saveena says “As a child to immigrant parents I’m aware of how language and cultural barriers can impact one’s quality of life. I appreciate this role as it allows a family with language barriers to receive the care they need and deserve for their child”.
When Saveena isn’t volunteering, you can find her spending time with her family and being outdoors. We are so grateful for everything Saveena has done for us and we want to thank her for being an amazing volunteer!
Our amazing volunteer, Bella started volunteering with us in April 2021 and quickly proved herself to be capable in any position she tried. She has excelled in various programs including Early Childhood programs, “I Can Pretend” Theatre program in partnership with the Citadel, Shop Cook & Learn cooking program for teens, Kickstart Soccer, and Active for Life.
What sets Bella apart is her amazing adaptability and patience with our participants. She has an easy-going attitude, a calm and cheerful disposition, and a welcoming personality that makes it easy for our participants to connect with her.
Bella works hard to make things fun and to help make the programs run smoothly. In her own words, “Volunteering with CFASA has allowed me to gain new skills and meet new people. I often find that the participants teach me more than I teach them which has led to some very rewarding experiences”. Outside of volunteering, Bella enjoys playing sports and hanging out with friends.
We want to take this opportunity to thank Bella for always being a smiling and happy face that welcomes our participants every single day. She has been an asset to our team and we feel so lucky that she chooses to volunteer her time with the Center!
Mathieson is a talented artist who has been working with the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts for many years. He participated in our CFASA art classes for many years developing his skills. Mathieson then decided that he wanted to share his passion and what he had learned, so he applied to volunteer with our teen group in the Exploring Art program at the Nina. Mathieson has been faithfully volunteering once a week since 2019, and he never misses a shift! Recently he asked to do more and signed up to volunteer with our Fun with Art program to learn new skills working with 6-12 year olds.
Not only does Mathieson inspire participants with new artistic perspectives, but he thrives when creating communication opportunities and making connections. Staff reports that Mathieson is kind, patient, polite, punctual, reliable, and always willing to help anywhere that’s needed. He arrives at every shift with a positive attitude and takes the initiative to help the team prep and clean before and after sessions.
Mathieson is sure to give verbal praise to participants for their artwork and gives clear step-by-step instructions and explanations. Because of his years of experience at the Nina Haggerty Centre, he is a great tour guide for new staff members and volunteers and he knows where every art material is located.
When asked why he chooses to volunteer Mathieson says, “the Centre has supported me and so many others for years, so what better way to thank them than by helping to provide more support?” Aside from art, Mathieson’s hobbies and interests include video games, superheroes, history, and nature. Thank you, Mathieson, for your dedication and contribution to the Centre!
Mathieson has recently been featured on an episode of the Centre for Autism Student’s Association podcast! Check out his episode HERE!
Aisha started volunteering with us in the fall of 2021 and has been an amazing addition to our team ever since. She is multi-talented, adaptable, and has participated in many of our programs, including Exploring Art, Shop Cook & Learn, Virtual Social Night, and most recently, Kickstart Soccer.
The Kickstart Soccer program is a great way to introduce children with autism to the world’s most popular game. With Aisha’s help, the children develop soccer skills, learn game-play concepts and strategies, and build foundational skills necessary to integrate into community-based programs along with their neurotypical peers. Aisha excels at making the participants feel safe and welcomed into the gym every single session. She greets participants as soon as they arrive and supports them throughout each session. This has really helped the participants bond with Aisha, encouraging them to open up and be willing to participate throughout the session. Aisha excells at being patient and present with all participants. If participants were slow to engage or want to take breaks, she would always accompany them and support them in whatever capacity they required.
Our staff reports that Aisha is not only incredible with the children but is also a pleasure to work with. They appreciate her positive attitude, punctuality, and her helpfulness in the set-up and implementation of activities.
Aisha says, “I think for me, the best part about volunteering at the Center is taking part in all the creative and different programs that are present. I like that there are so many choices of how you can be involved with the children, and I especially like how some of them align with my own interests as well, such as cooking or playing soccer.”
Outside of volunteering, Aisha enjoys settling in bed with a good book, watching movies and TV shows, cooking, and of course, volunteering when she can.
Thank you, Aisha, for your incredible volunteer service! We are so grateful to have you on our team!
Our amazing volunteer, Avery, started volunteering with the Centre through the MacEwan Autism Acceptance Club in September 2021 in the role of Marketing & Design.
Avery’s dedication and hard work toward her role in the club earned her a promotion to President in 2022. Over the past year, she has been leading her team to plan and execute multiple events to increase awareness and educate the public about autism.
In addition to her role in the club, Avery also volunteers with the “I Can Pretend” theatre program, which helps teach Autistic children how to play with peers and form relationships through drama. Staff reported that Avery is a real leader in the program and has been able to form amazing bonds with the participants.
Avery finds volunteering with the Centre to be a truly fulfilling experience. She said: “While the programs offered are fun and inclusive for both the volunteers and the program attendees, there is something incredibly rewarding about working with the children at the Centre. By supporting Autistic children in navigating the social complexities that they often face, we can help them establish meaningful connections with their peers. Knowing that I am making a positive impact in their lives is what motivates me to continue volunteering with the Centre.”
When Avery isn’t volunteering, she enjoys trying new restaurants and cafés, traveling, watching movies, and baking.
Thank you, Avery, for all you do! Your kindness, compassion, passion to spread autism acceptance, and making a difference at MacEwan and beyond are truly appreciated.
This amazing volunteer, Christy, has been volunteering with The Centre for Autism Students’ Association at the University of Alberta for four years!
Christy started out on the CFASA students association in 2019 and quickly rose to become VP of Events in 2020, Vice President in 2021, and ultimately President in 2022. The Centre for Autism Student’s Association’s mission is to increase autism awareness and acceptance on the UAlberta campus and to the general public through means of educational opportunities and fundraising events.
In the past year, Christy has led her team in planning and executing the 10th annual Discovering Autism Conference, as well as multiple fundraising and awareness events including a bake sale, pumpkin carving, bottle drive, Valentine’s Day candy gram sale, and a tabling event. She has also led her team to record, edit, produce, and release multiple podcast episodes, providing a platform for the voices of neurodivergent individuals, social workers, scientists, and community members.
Despite facing numerous challenges such as returning to in-person events for the first time since 2020 and balancing competing demands with most of the executive team being busy 4th year students, Christy’s positive attitude and strong leadership skills have allowed her to manage them all with ease.
When asked about her volunteer experience with CFASA, Christy said, “In my 4 years volunteering with CFASA, I have found that this club is uniquely involved and importantly places an emphasis on the voices of self-advocates rather than solely the views of neurotypical volunteers. I love that our initiatives, such as our Annual Conference and podcast, are creative and far-reaching so I really feel that I am contributing to something bigger than myself when I volunteer. Finally, I enjoy working closely with an amazing team of incredibly capable and committed members who I can always count on!”
We want to say a huge thank you to Christy for her amazing work advocating, fundraising, and bringing autism acceptance to the University of Alberta and the greater community. We appreciate you!
If you’re interested in checking out the podcast, head over to https://www.cfasa.ca/podcast!