Read more →
When Olivia Hubert’s grandmother needed a double lung transplant, the then-high school student found her first cause.Inspired by her grandmother Gerry Richard’s need, Hubert started working to promote organ donation in high schools and driving schools.Her volunteerism continued throughout her four years at Brock University and her efforts were recognized recently when she was named the Mayor’s Volunteer of the Year by the City of St. Catharines.“It was shocking,” the 21 year old said of the award. “There are so many people who have spent so much of their lives giving back in St. Catharines.”The Education Foundation of Niagara, an organization Hubert helped earlier this year with the inaugural Denim, Diamonds and Diplomas fundraiser for the DSBN Academy, nominated the fourth-year nursing student for the award. The charity gala raised more than $22,000.“It’s very rewarding knowing I’m making a difference,” Hubert said. “I don’t do it as a resume builder. I just do it for the people I’m helping and the causes I’m passionate about.”Hubert, who volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and runs the Go Girls group, said she was moved to help the DSBN Academy because she’s worked with girls who go there.“I’m so close to it, I see the challenges these kids face,” she said.The money raised during the fundraiser, organized by the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society, will create bursaries for students from the DSBN Academy to attend post-secondary education.Hubert also worked with the foundation to put on the May Court Fashion Show, which raised $16,000 for the May Court Club of St. Catharines and the Prom Project Niagara.Hubert, who is graduating with a nursing degree, said she spent 525 hours volunteering during this past school year. She also worked a part-time job and maintained a social life.“It’s possible, you just have to make priorities,” she said. “I make volunteering a priority.”First-year Brock student Yusuf BenHalim was also honoured during the volunteer recognition. Along with high school student Kate Hou, BenHalim won the Margaret MacLennan Youth Volunteer Award.BenHalim, an 18-year-old environmental geo-science student, was honoured for his work with the non-profit youth organization Qamer Foundation.Yusuf BenHalimWith the charity, he travelled to Tanzania to help build a house for a family with six disabled children. During the trip he also handed out care packages including wheelchairs, clothes, books, school supplies and medicine.“I’ve always wanted to do something that helps other people,” he said. “It has motivated me to want to go and help out even more.”BenHalim said the trip was his first experience outside of North America and his first look at third-world poverty.“The people were so welcoming. It’s a different type of nice,” he said. “The whole time I was there, not once did I feel homesick.”Hubert and BenHalim are outstanding examples of the outreach efforts of Brock students. In 2014-15, Brock students volunteered nearly 80,000 hours in the Niagara community.