24, 2002, Gazette)
while on a work term in Ottawa, Laura Wellon volunteered with the
National Capital Commission and was involved in Winterlude. Volunteering
is a way to get right in the middle of things, she said.
Laura Wellon is a third-year business student with an outstanding
record. Shes been consistently named to the deans list
and has recently been selected as one of five women worldwide to receive
the Zonta International Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship,
valued at more than $4,000 US. But what really sets this 21-year-old
student apart is what she does outside of school.
A skier, basketball and soccer player, Ms. Wellon is also actively
involved in her community as a volunteer with more than seven charitable
organizations. She coaches a girls soccer team, is a member
of the Red Cross disaster response team, and a member of Habitat for
Humanity to name a few of her roles.
Despite, all of her extracurricular commitments, Ms. Wellon remains
focused on her academic pursuits and helping people. According to
her, the two go hand in hand because her volunteer experiences have
helped her to build skills to make her a better professional.
Ms. Wellons volunteer experiences have strengthened her public
speaking skills and taught her valuable leadership skills. As a volunteer
with Junior Achievements Business Basics program, she helped
teach Grade Six students about business.
It was a lot of fun introducing young students to what Im
passionate about in university. At the end of the program, it was
rewarding to ask the students what is an entrepreneur
and have them all raise their hands because they know the answer.
Jackson (R), president of the local Zonta International chapter, presents
Laura Wellon with the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship,
valued at more than $4,000 US.
One of the most useful lessons Ms. Wellon believes volunteering
can teach a person is how to appreciate other peoples perspectives.
She was part of a Red Cross simulation in Calgary, designed to help
volunteers better understand what refugees go through. The simulation
was staged in the middle of nowhere in the Rocky Mountains under horrible,
but realistic conditions: it was cold and snowing, the refugees had
nothing to eat except lentils and rice, and the guards were being
rude and uncooperative.
It was really eye-opening, said Ms. Wellon. The
simulation was supposed to help us learn how to organize camps, register
the refugees and set-up a system for communicating; however, it also
demonstrated the more personal difficulties and frustrations refugees
Sometimes, you can face some pretty challenging situations as
a volunteer, especially in times of crisis or disaster, she
continued. One of the nice things about volunteering is that
you find yourself in a group of like-minded people. Theyre caring,
motivated, and its nice to work with such positive people.
Last year, Ms. Wellon was on call with the Red Cross the day the apartment
building on Blackmarsh Road caught fire. As one of the first people
on the scene, she was responsible for getting information from the
residents and making arrangements for them and provide comfort kits.
Many of the people affected were left with nothing, she
said. They had no insurance and the fire had completely destroyed
their apartments. I was able to give them a hug and give them tangible
and immediate help. To me, that was very rewarding.
Those one-on-one dealings with people help Ms. Wellon see the value
Its nice to see that youre making a difference,
she said. Its nice when one of the kids I coach comes
up to me in the mall and says hi. Its nice to know
that you matter to someone. I remember the role models Ive had
along the way and it feels good to know that someone looks up to me.
She also feels her volunteer experience helps her get more out of
her classroom experience. Apart from the more obvious skills volunteering
teaches such as time management, leadership and how to work with a
team, Ms. Wellon says volunteering teaches her things about herself
and her own abilities.
Last summer, I helped Habitat for Humanity build a home for
a local family. At first, I thought I didnt know how to build
a house but they have engineers and construction workers managing
the project and telling you what to do. Before I knew it, I was helping
an electrician wire the house. The day the house was finished, the
family was given the keys to their new home. It was a really emotional
moment because we knew how much it meant to them. I guess thats
one of the most tangible examples of what volunteers can accomplish.
My volunteer experiences have given me a lot of useful tools
to use in the classroom, she said. Ive learned to
think on my feet, to consider how my actions impact people and to
think creatively. But to clarify, the fact that volunteering
boosts her résumé is simply a fringe benefit.
Volunteering is a stress relief for me. Its a break from
my studies and I get to combine things I love such as exercise and
working with kids.