At the start of this summer, seeking something to fill my spare time, I signed on to volunteer at the Mosaic Institute, with only a preliminary understanding of what the organization was all about. What I gained was a wealth of knowledge and experience that far exceeded my expectations. Volunteering at Mosaic these past few months has given me the opportunity to work with individuals who are intelligent, compassionate and appreciative; and in an environment in which mutual respect, support, and understanding are of the utmost importance.

As a Social Work student, I am innately curious about and sensitive to other people’s realities. Volunteering here, however, has opened my eyes even further to the experiences of diverse communities living across Canada and abroad. Attending the Cast from the Storm screening was particularly poignant, giving me (and all of us) a glimpse into the life-worlds of refugees from the Middle East living in Australia, relayed in a narrative that was at once moving and inspiring.

Reading through blog posts as part of my website maintenance allowed me to understand the unique struggles, cultural practices, and socio-political positions of diverse Canadian communities.

Helping to develop an anti-discrimination policy and outlining ground rules for Mosaic in Conversation brought to light just how committed Mosaic is to creating open dialogue and to ensuring that its staff, Fellows and volunteers are equally protected and heard. Indeed, throughout my time here, it has become increasingly clear that the staff genuinely want to hear each team member’s opinions and absolutely everyone’s voice counts. As a volunteer, this is much more than I ever expected or hoped for.

Since I began volunteering here, I have found myself explaining Mosaic and the work we do to people everywhere I go, and each time have been met with intrigue and respect. I am proud to have been able to be a part of the wonderful work that mosaic is doing and thrilled that I will be continuing as a volunteer.

Maddie is a Masters of Social Work student at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York City. Maddie graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014 where she studied psychology and writing and received her BA in liberal arts. Maddie has a passion for assisting, advocating for, and empowering disenfranchised individuals and groups; much of her experience is in working with youth with disabilities and seniors. She has worked with these populations in various setting throughout Toronto, New York, and Israel. This summer, Maddie will be working on several projects with the Mosaic team where she will provide operational, program and communication support. When she’s not here, Maddie enjoys exploring the city by foot and bike and scoping out new places for food and coffee.