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Milton Youth Action Team Graduation Celebration

By: Amber Siddiqui, HYI Volunteer and Lily Viggiano, Project Coordinator HYI

July 29, 2021

Goodbyes are always a little bittersweet: As the school year has come to an end, many of our Halton Youth Initiative volunteers are graduating from high school. It is important to take a moment to congratulate each and every single young person on the team for their incredible achievements and to thank them for their dedication to volunteering throughout the years. As volunteers, it is easy to find ourselves eagerly taking on the next task or brainstorming for a new project. Equally as important, however, is to take a chance to stop and celebrate all of the hard work that has been done.

On July 19, 2021, four original volunteers from the Milton Youth Action Team and volunteer coordinator Lily Viggiano, came together at Mill Pond to reflect and celebrate the graduation of Farrah Laufer and Iman Ahsan. Amber Siddiqui and Nabeha Hafiz joined them in reminiscing on time well spent with teammates - and more importantly - as friends. Over boxes of Chinese noodles, the team swapped stories on what’s next in their lives and the future feels bright! It’s been an honour to watch this group of leaders come together, forge friendships, tackle community issues and truly live the values that volunteerism teaches.

Our graduates left the next generation of HYI, some thoughts and advice on why volunteerism is important - not just for our community, but for ourselves.

Iman, Lily and Farrah

Farrah Laufer joined the Milton Youth Action Team in July 2019. She was part of many projects and breakout room teams including Milton Fall Fair, Darling Home for Kids pitch, Communications Crew, Indigenous amp series, Minds Matter mental health project, Crafting for a Cause fundraiser, and more! She graduated from Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in June 2021. This fall she is heading to McMaster University to pursue a science degree, aiming to major in environmental science. She had this to say about the value of volunteerism:

"Throughout our lifetime, we face various experiences that shape who we are and our outlook towards the world. Whether it be a struggle, joy or revelation that we undergo, the same results conclude, a belief, want, or purpose. It is difficult to look beyond our mindset and easily blame our actions on our unchanging ego, which is why we move towards familiarity. We begin to build different worlds among each other and forget to look beyond our lives and help others. However, I believe humans have a progressive mind that controls who we are and what we do. Once we welcome the capability to grow our beliefs, there is no boundary to the positive changes we can make in our actions, communities, and world. It took me a long time to understand this concept. But once I started volunteering with the Halton Youth Initiative, something flipped and lifelong passions commenced. I saw that I was not the only person in the world experiencing hardship, no matter what that looks like. I wanted to help anyone who was undignified, hurt or experiencing trauma, big and small. I became responsible and aware of the situations others experience. The power of volunteering is strong, inspiring and the underpinning of any community."

Nabeha, Iman, Amber and Farrah

Iman Ahsan joined the Milton Youth Action team on July 2, 2019. Her leadership and great ideas reflected into many projects such as the Milton Fall Fair (Battle of the Bands and Rec Room), Darling Home for Kids pitch, blogging, Communications Crew, card games with Older Adulrs, COVID-19 virtual response team, addressing racial justice in schools, panel events and so much more! She graduated from St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in June 2021. This fall, she will be attending the University of Waterloo for Computer Science. The following was submitted by Iman, on the importance of volunteerism:

“I still remember my very first day of volunteering with the Milton Youth Action Team in the Summer of 2019. All of the details are embedded in my memory -- from the ice breakers we played and the delicious selection of snacks to the new faces all around me. Little did I know that those new faces would be such a big part of my life two years later. This unreal experience has taught me so much about the importance of teamwork, listening to others, and how enjoyable and exciting volunteering can be! I have also learned a great deal about myself throughout this process and have grown immensely as a young person and as a volunteer through all the opportunities that were available to me. I have been a part of numerous projects over the past two years (and I’ve even led some!) and each and every one of them has taught me something unique. Even though my time with this group is over, the memories and amazing people I have met will stick around forever.”

Although these graduates’ time with the Halton Youth Initiative has come to an end, their journey as young adults who are eager and willing to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways has barely just begun. Farrah, Iman, and all of the other Halton Youth Initiative graduates are deeply inspiring to their fellow volunteers and the Halton community as a whole. It is true that we will miss them, however, we cannot wait to see all of the amazing change they will bring to this world. On behalf of the Halton Youth Initiative, we would like to wish the best of luck to all of our graduating members and to use this opportunity to welcome in the next generation of volunteers. Together, we are an unstoppable force committed to changing the world.

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