Blog June 4, 2012
Lifelong learning: Barb Williams
In the summer of 2011, Barb Williams took early retirement and was looking for some interesting volunteer opportunities. An outdoorsy-type with experience as an educational assistant with special-needs kids, and with a history of living in the neighbourhood, Barb was a perfect fit to become an Outdoor Teaching Assistant with EBW's Schools Program.
Why volunteer? Getting involved with the schools program at Evergreen Brick Works has been a great chance to be back with kids again and to help them discover nature. It’s great to be outside and I love the way that not only are the kids learning and discovering, but I also get to learn something new every time. To top it all off, I get a chance to work with terrific, enthusiastic people every week!
Highlights: The best is when the inner-city schools come down (from Regent Park or Rose Avenue). These kids are really discovering nature for the first time. I especially like the climb up to the lookout with the kids. We can see the city below and I can share the story of the city—of Muddy York and the big fire and how the Don Valley Brick Works came to be—and what it is now. I used to live in Leaside, and at the time this was a working factory. I’m now back in the neighbourhood and it’s completely transformed.
Favourite spot: I’d have to say around the ponds—we see something new every time. Last week we saw a large white egret and that was a first for me!
My other life: You’ll find me volunteering at Ronald McDonald House with their accredited school for all ages, taking courses through Ryerson’s LIFE program (Learning is Forever), hiking on the Bruce Trail and hanging out with my grandson.
To someone thinking about volunteering: Do it! You’ll have so many wonderful experiences—just remember to come prepared for the weather. And it helps that the schedule is flexible and can fit with your life. See you back here in the fall!