Child and Youth Worker, Early Childhood Education and Social Service Worker students can add a new position to their resumé: changemaker. Fourteen teams of 39 students paired with local non-profits last semester to identify and address various social challenges and gaps in community service.
Through the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Orillia Campus, they organized workshops and events, developed marketing material, conducted research and designed new programs. The students also raised more than $6,775, supporting organizations such as Right to Play and the Stand Up! Orillia Couchiching Community Initiative.
An incredible 9,866 community members were touched one way or another by these collaborative student projects, with 109 businesses chipping in to provide moral support or a form of sponsorship.
“These student projects are going a long way to transform the local community,” says Suzie Addison-Toor, Manager of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. “Many non-profits simply don’t have the resources to undertake the activities our students have. With a little bit of help and a lot of creativity, our students are providing them with lasting tools for change.”
Georgian’s centre is a model in the postsecondary sector. Rather than focusing on the creation of social enterprises, students work within existing organizations to strengthen and improve the services and programs they provide.
“We know the success of local entrepreneurs is vital for the growth and development of our region – and Georgian continues its great work on this front,” says Suzie. “But we also know that today’s employers are looking for intrapreneurs – employees with innovative skills and mindsets who can lead change in their organization and community. That’s where the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship comes into play.”
Since the centre opened its doors in 2010, more than 140 students have conducted 69 projects. Faculty and staff at the centre have also become a resource for institutions and agencies looking for an innovative edge. This year, the centre was honoured with a Strengthening our Community Award from the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce.
Students at the Orillia Campus will help raise awareness about homelessness in the community and funds for the second annual Bowls for Beds fundraiser this semester. Bowls for Beds supports Couchiching Jubilee House, a transitional facility for women and children. With the purchase of a ticket, event attendees will receive a ceramic bowl painted by local students that they can use to sample an array of delectable soups prepared by local chefs.
Students, as part of a Community Projects Initiative, are in the midst of recruiting schools and restaurants to participate in the fundraiser, facilitating a presentation and raising awareness about homelessness. They are also responsible for designing a workshop/activity that will be run on the day of the event, to promote awareness in the community about homelessness.The fundraiser will take place on Sunday, April 27 at Twin Lakes Secondary School in Orillia from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 705-326-4337.
Proceeds will assist two transitional housing providers: Couchiching Jubilee House and Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women’s Circle.
A new currency is being promoted in Orillia: your time. As part of a 14-week placement, Social Service Worker student Meggan Masters is helping to launch Lake Country Time Trade – an initiative that relies on the exchange of goods and services for other goods and services.
Meggan has partnered up with founder Annalise Stenekes, a contract lecturer in the social work department at Lakehead in Orillia and Lakehead student Michelle Bryan.
Read more about Meggan’s work in the Orillia Packet
With an investment of half a million dollars from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Georgian has big plans to grow its social entrepreneurship programs.
Since 2012, Georgian’s Orillia Campus has been home to the college’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship where students from a variety of programs collaborate on new ideas, approaches and ways of delivering services to the community.
Social entrepreneurship is about providing non‐profit organizations with creative strategies to address complex issues, generating both social and economic returns. Students work with such community partners as Camp Couchiching and the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County on business plans, fundraisers, marketing initiatives, partnership building and a variety of other projects.
Georgian will use the funds to expand student experiential learning opportunities across its network of seven campuses, as well as enrich its changemaker spaces, curriculum and scholarly research related to social entrepreneurship.
Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, Dean and Orillia Campus Principal, says the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship has already generated exceptional results and she looks forward to its growth.
“With this transformational funding, our Centre is positioned to become the social entrepreneurial learning hub in Simcoe County and beyond. We will be able to provide even more students with opportunities to develop the skills and mindsets that will differentiate them in the workforce,” she said.
Since 2012, the Centre has partnered with 750 organizations, placing more than 1,200 students annually in the community through work‐related placements.
The funding is part of the Foundation’s RECODE initiative to encourage students to become social entrepreneurs while contributing to Canada’s capacity for social innovation. Georgian was one of 15 postsecondary institutions in Canada to receive a matching grant.
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization based in Montreal that supports Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient society.
As part of the new residence welcome package at the Orillia Campus, students from the Community Education Partnership Centre (CEPC) are providing their peers with invaluable information about mental health awareness.
Last year, Social Service Worker students Michelle Carnahan and Hailey Coates created a suicide prevention brochure for Start Talking, a project run by the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council. They teamed up with the council through the Community Projects Initiative.
“I’m thrilled our students’ hard work is helping to make the Orillia Campus a safe and supportive place,” says Suzie Addison-Toor, Faculty Lead for CEPC. “It is wonderful to see the results of their fantastic work. I am so proud of them!”
As part of their studies, Social Service Worker and Child and Youth Worker students will create partnerships with local organizations through Georgian’s Community Projects Initiative. Past partners have included the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as grassroots social enterprise Off the Rack, located in Barrie.
Social Service Worker
In the past, I had various roles that I didn’t find fulfilling—I needed to make a change. The SSW program not only met the education requirements for the jobs I desired, but encouraged me to embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. The faculty are personable, extremely supportive, and your biggest fan! Never underestimate the power of your relationships with faculty and other staff; they truly make a difference.
I am currently a Volunteer Coordinator and Social Service Worker at a long term care facility and although I never had this line of work on my career radar, when the opportunity presented itself I accepted and have never looked back. I love it!
Social Service Worker
Directly after graduation, I began my new career as an Employment Counsellor at Northern Lights. I counsel and coach clients around their job search goals, whether they are pursuing employment, employment training, or educational upgrading or retraining.
Prior to attending Georgian, I was employed in various administrative support positions. Over the years, and with a couple of moves, it became increasingly difficult to find positions with any advancement potential, and so it was time for a career change. The Social Service Worker program at Georgian provided the training and background to set me on my new path.
Georgian College has a very welcoming atmosphere – it’s easy to get to know the “people of Georgian College” (the Dean, Assistant Dean, Coordinator, professors, support staff, as well as cafeteria staff, custodians, etc.). Everyone is there with a friendly smile, willing to help or encourage you.
The number one thing I learned at Georgian College is this: not only is learning fun, but it gives you great confidence to pursue your goals. The support is excellent, and so is the potential for growth!
Social Service Worker
After a career in sales, I was accepted into the Social Service Worker program in January 2011, graduated April 2012, and am currently pursuing my BSW at Laurentian University.
After a placement and volunteering at The Sharing Place Food Bank, I was offered the position of Operations Manager where I coordinate and manage approximately 70 volunteers serving on average 1400 clients a month. Some of my other responsibilities include purchasing and arranging deliveries of donations, networking and partnering with other community agencies and schools, maintaining the facility, intake work with clients and preparing monthly reports for our board of directors.
Working with a vulnerable sector of the population, the strengths based model at Georgian has been a very valuable tool. Hands on practical learning and placements were great experiences that prepared me for this field. The level of instruction, professors who challenged me, and meeting some great colleagues who remain friends are a few of the great benefits I gained from the Social Service Worker program.
Social Service Worker
I came to Georgian College with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies. I was finding it difficult to get a job with a degree and no experience in the field, so I decided to go to Georgian where I could learn more practical skills and have some hands on experience to back my education.
The Social Service Worker Program gave me just what I needed to get started on my career. It taught me how to build rapport with clients, how to be empathetic, and most importantly, it gave me the confidence, skills and knowledge I needed to do the job well.
My first placement was at Family Youth and Child Services in Muskoka, and a few weeks after graduating I was hired as a Case Aide for the agency. Without going to Georgian College and taking the Social Service Worker program, I would have never have gained the skills or confidence to work in child protection.
In addition to being a registered social worker and certified teacher in Ontario, Steve also holds a BA in psychology, a B.Ed. in special education and English as a second language, as well as a master’s degree in social work specializing in social work in educational settings and international social welfare. He has also conducted extensive post-master’s research regarding human rights education.
Steve has worked in Africa carrying out refugee aid work for the United Nations, and as an inner city school board social worker. He has run his own private practice family counselling business and conducted group counselling in various settings. His main research interest is in exploring human rights and social work. He has been a trainer of Canadian and international peacekeepers and human rights activists, and has recently been invited by the government of Indonesia to train social work professors in human rights.
Steve loves teaching and always looks forward to meeting students and having fun while learning together.
Adam spent the early years of his career working with children and youth with a variety of behavioural, emotional and developmental challenges in group homes, foster care agencies and schools. Later, he had a private practice in psychotherapy in which he worked with individuals, groups, couples and families. Adam has been teaching since 2005 and has been a full-time faculty member at Georgian College since 2010. He is co-ordinator of the Social Service Worker program and teaches courses in clinical skill development. Adam believes that in order to master the complex skillset required of helping professionals, we must have safe space for extensive practice and feedback – the Georgian Social Service Worker program provides such space. Adam has a BA in psychology, a diploma in guidance studies, an MA in psychotherapeutic studies and is a PhD candidate in educational studies.