Social work student nets major award for her community work
by Jeff Green
Social work student Charlotte Courage.
Contributing to the community is something Charlotte Courage knows all about.
In fact, the fifth-year student has squeezed quite a bit of it into her 21 years. There’s 16 years with Girl Guides of Canada as both a youth member and now as a Brownie leader; five years as an in-school mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters; and eight years volunteering with her parish, St. Thomas’ Anglican Church.
Add to the mix her volunteer efforts as class president in Memorial’s School of Social Work and the time she spends on countless committees as well as her advocacy work to raise awareness about homelessness, it quickly becomes clear why she was chosen as this province’s inaugural winner of the Young Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Red Cross.
Ms. Courage will be presented with a special award on Nov. 26 in St. John’s.
Well-known business leader and philanthropist Dr. Ches Penney who received an honorary degree from Memorial in 2005 will receive the Humanitarian Award at the same ceremony.
“It was completely unexpected,” a humble Ms. Courage said recently. “I feel that the Red Cross is truly a fantastic community organization and to have been recognized by them is very special. I feel that recognizing youth volunteerism is very important and this award speaks to a growing consciousness on the part of the community that youth are creating change and making a positive impact on society.”
Part of her impact includes work to bolster awareness about living on the street.
Last October, she and two classmates Mark Griffin and Lesley Bishop led a homelessness experiential learning project. The three spent 24 hours on the streets in St. John’s.
“Following the project we presented to numerous schools, Memorial classes and community groups,” added Ms. Courage.
If the Red Cross award weren’t flattering enough, Ms. Courage was also recently named a winner of a 2007 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Student Scholarship Award valued at $1,000. She’s one of 20 students selected out of 600 applications. The award recognizes student leadership.
“I decided to study social work because I see that there is a huge need for social change,” she noted. “We are living in a nation of great wealth and yet there are still people who are living in poverty. As social workers we are called upon to advocate for social change while working with individuals to help them make changes in their own lives.
“The social work program at Memorial challenges us to be change agents at the micro and macro level,” Ms. Courage added. “I know that I have made the correct choice of profession and I look forward to completing my studies.”