What does volunteering mean to you?

Yesterday, our Employment Skills Workshop group finished their public speaking unit. They each gave a short presentation to their classmates about their experiences with volunteer work.

Everyone did a fantastic job! Check out some of the highlights below.


Amanda shared with us about her position volunteering at Sanctuary Youth Centre, an experience that she describes as very rewarding.


“This job always left me feeling complete. Knowing that the youth left happy, with full bellies… was enough for me.” 


Brent absolutely loves volunteering at the Ashton Armoury Museum, and shared his enthusiasm and passion with us. 


“I feel that working hands-on brings a sense of happiness and pride. It makes me feel tired – in a good way.”


Eric, who currently volunteers as a courier for Lifetime Networks, talked about his past experience volunteering in a library. He said it made him feel useful, and taught him some great life lessons.


“It helped me realize that no matter the person, we all can find something to contribute back to society… it has also helped me realize that taking those few moments to help make someone’s day easier can also end up rewarding you in ways you would never have foreseen or thought possible.” 


Great Work, Everyone!

I’m In To Hire: an inclusive employment initiative

If you are familiar with Lifetime Networks, you are probably also familiar with the Best Buddies program. Lifetime Networks works with the University of Victoria to match student volunteers with community members with disabilities to facilitate friendships throughout the school year. But you might not be aware that Best Buddies International also has a Jobs Program, and puts a lot of emphasis into promoting inclusive employment practices!

As part of their focus on employment, they launched an initiative to encourage employers to support and adopt inclusive hiring practices. I’m In To Hire asks employers and others to pledge their support for inclusive workplaces and the benefits of hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Additionally, you can download a free copy of the “Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” report that Best Buddies produced in partnership with the Institute for Corporate Productivity. This is a great resource for employers who might still be on the fence about hiring people with disabilities or diverse abilities.

Here is a brief info-graphic teaser of some of the information contained in the report. Check out the full report, and share with any employers you know!

Download the Report

Public Speaking: What makes a good speaker great?

September is Public Speaking month for the Lifetime Networks Employment Workshop group. This month we will be learning what it takes to be a great public speaker. At the end of the month, each participant will give a short speech to the group to demonstrate what they’ve learned!

To kick off our first lesson on public speaking, we watched a few examples of great contemporary public speakers and discussed what we can learn from them. You can check out some of our thoughts on these examples below.


Conveying emotion

The most common goal of public speaking is to persuade the audience. Whether you are encouraging them to act a certain way, or offering them new knowledge to consider, it is imperative that you connect to your audience. The most effective way to do this is through emotion; through conveying emotion in your speech, and having the effect of changing the emotion of your audience.

In the following clips, taken from YouTube, we see Michelle Obama and Stephen Colbert giving very heartfelt and emotionally driven speeches. The group reflected that these speakers were so powerful precisely because of the emotion conveyed in their speeches. They made us feel something, and feel it strongly. They went beyond the mechanics of a good speech and connected with their audience on a much deeper, genuine, personal level.

ž Michelle Obama

Stephen Colbert


The mechanics of good speaking

Of course, an emotional speech wont be effective without first mastering the basics of public speaking – speaking confidently, clearly, and conversationally are all important qualities of good speakers.

In the first example below, we see how one speaker, Margaret Thatcher, put a lot of time and effort into honing her speaking voice. Over time, she learned to modify the pitch of her voice, her tone, her speed and enunciation. She did this because it was thought that these qualities made her a better speaker. To contrast Thatcher’s efforts to change her voice, we watched a clip of comedian Drew Lynch, who speaks with a stutter. Not only is he unable to do anything to change his stutter (nor should he), he has found a way to embrace it so positively that his comedy routine is actually enhanced by his way of speaking.

Margaret Thatcher

Drew Lynch


There is no single quality that makes someone a great public speaker. It is a combination of personality and confidence, mastering the basic mechanics of giving a speech (voice, body language, presentation), and being able to connect with your audience. A good speech also needs to be well written and well rehearsed.

If you’d like more information on public speaking, check out Toastmasters!