Cassidy's Blog: From Volunteer to Summer Student

Michael Landsberg at Great Lakes Secondary School.

July 12, 2018

The office has been super busy this week preparing for tomorrow night’s Block Party, leaving me with nothing really exciting to blog about this week. So, I’ve decided to tell you about what got me volunteering with the Foundation, and how I eventually started working for them.

My first time officially volunteering was in early 2017/late 2016 (I honestly can’t even remember anymore), when Dream Home Lottery was in full swing. They needed someone to help input ticket info into the database, and my sister, Danielle, volunteered me for the task. Just simple stuff, since I was still in high school and needed some volunteer hours. This was the first time I really got to know the girls in the office. This was also my first time ever working in an office, which I decided was a pretty cool experience.

In the summer between high school and college, I had a lot of time to do absolutely nothing. So I spent some time in the office, doing little chores like tidying up filing cabinets or cutting laminated signs; things to keep me busy while I got ready for college.

I started Digital Photography at Lambton College in September 2017, and learned a whole heck of a lot in the first few months. Around the same time, the Foundation was ramping up for their annual Tribute Gala, and had just announced their keynote speaker. “Michael Landsberg!” they said, “Isn’t that awesome?”.

“Yeah!” I replied, “Who’s that?”.

Now, I’m not big into sports. I’m one of those people who is glued to the TV during the Olympics, then couldn't care less the rest of the year. So for those who are just as confused as I was, Michael Landsberg is a famous Canadian sports anchor, and founder of the mental health initiative SickNotWeak.

After I learned this, the Foundation asked if I wanted to get a little photography experience by taking some pictures at the Gala. I of course said yes, even though I was super nervous about the whole thing. I was being relied on to do a quality job, and even know I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal if I messed up, I still really wanted to do a good job.

As part of the event, I got to visit some of Sarnia’s high schools and shoot while Michael Landsberg spoke, then photograph him during his speech at the Gala.

Winners of the 2017-2018 Dream Home Lottery!

Besides being an AWESOME learning experience (and getting meet Michael Landsberg!), I was rewarded with a seat at the Gala and a delicious meal. Working the Gala pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped affirm my choice to study photography. It was definitely one of the funnest events I’ve been at so far, and I’m pretty excited to help out at this year’s Gala, too.

Fast forward to February of this year. It’s the end of the Dream Home Lottery, and the winners are coming to get their photo taken at their new house. Who does the Foundation call? Me, of course! Except this time, the assignment is a little special - my photo will get put on the cover of their Pulse newsletter!

Around the end of the semester, I started hearing whispers that the Foundation miiiight be able to hire a student for a summer marketing position. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, because I didn’t think I would be qualified enough, and didn’t want to hinge my summer plans on a job that might or might not exist. But it was real. And a few weeks later, the post went up. And I was qualified for it. And I squealed. And I applied! The rest is pretty much history.

The Foundation has given me a TON of experience and opportunities that I never would’ve gotten had I not started volunteering. I’m beyond thankful to everyone in the office for giving me the chance to develop my “professional” and photography skills. Just working here, even for a short time, gave me a whole whack of stuff to put in my portfolio for when I sadly have to get a new job. Because unfortunately, my student position ends two weeks, and I’ll be back to volunteering once more (but as long as they give me food, I’ll be there!)

Cassidy is a second-year Digital Photography student at Lambton College chronicling her experience in the Foundation office over the course of the summer.