January 17, 2020

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Opinion

Getting involved early on in life

Student finds fulfilment helping others

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Isaak Fast volunteers every Sunday morning at Misericordia Health Centre, bringing patients to and from the chapel and helping set up. He finds joy in his interactions with those at the centre.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Isaak Fast volunteers every Sunday morning at Misericordia Health Centre, bringing patients to and from the chapel and helping set up. He finds joy in his interactions with those at the centre.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/1/2019 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Between classes, homework, extracurricular activities and keeping up with friends, a Grade 12 student’s schedule can be full. For Isaak Fast, that schedule includes volunteering.

Every Sunday morning, Isaak helps out at Misericordia Health Centre. He assists with setting up the chapel for worship and takes patients to and from the chapel.

The 17-year-old says his girlfriend, who spent last summer working at a personal-care home, inspired him to start volunteering at the hospital four months ago.

"She always came home and talked about the fun between her and one resident," Fast said. "I think I was just looking to do that for somebody as well."

Volunteering at Misericordia made sense for Fast, who attends Westgate Mennonite Collegiate nearby.

"Our guidance counsellor is always talking about volunteer opportunities, and she always talks about Misericordia… so I reached out to them," he said.

For Fast, the joy of volunteering comes from the interactions with the patients and residents. They may not last very long — four or five minutes at most — but they make a difference to both the patient and him.

"Spending that time with them, asking them silly questions or asking them about their morning or how their breakfast was, is amazing," he said. "I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe how I feel when I’m there."

Helping at Misericordia isn’t his only volunteer commitment. He serves as secretary on his school’s senior high student council and sits on the school’s community committee, which aims to build unity within the student body.

Fast is also a member of the school’s gay-straight alliance.

To earn his community service credit in Grade 9, he volunteered as an assistant coach with Westgate’s Grade 7 boys volleyball team.

This past fall, he helped his mother, who teaches at Westgate, coach the school’s Grade 8 girls volleyball team to a zone championship.

Fast is an accomplished volleyball player himself and was recently awarded a scholarship to play for the University of Manitoba starting in September.

"It’s a dream come true," he said. "Ever since I was in Grade 7, I knew this was the sport I wanted to play as long as I could."

Fast is planning to study biochemistry at the U of M and then move on to medical school to become a pediatrician.

"That’s also a reason why I wanted to volunteer at Misericordia," he said. "I realized I wanted to work in the medical field, and I figured getting experience being in a hospital or just in that setting... would be good for me."

He credits Westgate with encouraging him to volunteer.

In addition to the community service credit component, the school holds an annual work-day fundraiser that involves students volunteering throughout the community.

"In my years at the school, I think it’s definitely helped me to grow in confidence and know what I’m doing when I volunteer," Fast said.

Aaron Epp is on Westgate Mennonite Collegiate’s board of directors. If you know a special volunteer, email him at aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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