Nfld. & Labrador

No paycheque, no problem: This volunteer group's goal is to get out there — and give back

A new volunteer group is calling itself the Go Getters, and they're tackling everything from litter to food drives.

Two dozen volunteers aiming for 120 hours of community service across St. John's area

Lindsey Hynes, right, and Kristen Whittle are with the Go Getters group. (Paula Gale/CBC)

There's no job, no course credit and definitely no pay for a new volunteer group whose 23 members all pledge to help their community through litter cleanups, food drives and other forms of public service.

For the Go Getters, it's all about the satisfaction of making the St. John's area a better place. 

The pledge isn't a small one: each member has promised to put in 120 hours of volunteer time. 

"They're really enjoying it — it's youth-led, so they're giving feedback all the time and shaping what the activities and the different volunteer opportunities that we do are, so we never know from month to month what's going to happen," said Lindsey Hynes, engagement co-ordinator for the Go Getters.

The group, which launched in June, is built around three pillars: community service, civic engagement and advocacy.

"The program is always evolving and the group is super-engaged," she said.

I'm hoping, really, just to become more involved, to learn lots about the community and moreso just be involved on a regular basis.- Kristen Whittle

Group member Kristen Whittle said she'd always wanted to become more involved in her community but she didn't know how to get started.

"We're doing all kinds of things to actually become involved and learn stuff about the community, and it's super-exciting," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

Plans to shift to specific projects and placements

Right now, the activities have tended to be group ones, but as the program progresses — it's a pilot project funded by the federal Canada Service Corps. and hosted by the Community Sector Council N.L. — there will be more service projects and volunteer placements, she said.

Hynes said the group identified some key community issues that members are already passionate about.

"I've been booking presentations and tours and things in the community sector," she said.

"For example, they were very passionate about the environment, so we had a presentation by the Conservation Corps. So that's kind of picking the brain to see, 'Am I really passionate? Like, do I want to develop a service project around a climate change topic or something like that?' So it's just making sure that that's where they are and that's where they want to go."

The group has taken in a St. John's city council meeting for insight into governance, has toured the St. John's Farmers' Market to see how it works, and is visiting seniors' homes as a way to drive home the benefits and necessity of volunteering.

Listen: Lindsey Hynes and Kristen Whittle tell Maggie Gillis how the Go Getters program works

A recent visit has been Whittle's favourite activity so far.

"It was actually kind of a social event," said Whittle. "We had someone within the group, he played guitar and we had some music, a few singalongs. We just got to sit down and talk to some lovely people you wouldn't normally talk to."

Wedding bells ringing

The visit included a little something extra for Whittle, too: a marriage proposal from one of the residents.

"We'll see when the wedding is," she said, laughing.

And while the group expects people to volunteer about 12 hours a month, there's flexibility to accommodate members' schedules.

Whittle says she's managing to get in between 16 and 17 hours a month around her schedule as a full-time student at Memorial University.

"I'm hoping, really, just to become more involved, to learn lots about the community and moreso just be involved on a regular basis," she said.

"MUN has a lot of opportunities to volunteer, but not necessarily within the community, so I'm hoping I'll be able to be within the community more regularly."

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