How Volunteering at the YWCA Toronto International Boutique Changed My Life

by Nicole Preston

A selection of brightly-coloured goods for sale at the YWCA Toronto International Boutique, arranged on a shelf.

A selection of goods for sale at the YWCA Toronto International Boutique

When I signed up to volunteer at the YWCA Toronto International Boutique a little over a year ago, I hoped it would give me an opportunity to brush up on my retail selling skills while contributing to a good cause, as well as have a bit of fun. So far it has delivered on all those promises – and so much more!

The Boutique is 100% volunteer-run and all proceeds support programs that give women and girls in developing countries the means to improve their lives and strengthen their communities. As a senior national customer business manager for an international confectionary company, I looked forward to putting my sales skills toward helping women.

During my weekly Saturday morning shift, I’ve become friends with my co-volunteers – women from many different backgrounds who are well-travelled, compassionate and most of all, engaging. We share coffees and lunches as well as news about our lives, opinions on current events, and a wonderful book swap. I know I’m not alone when I say I find the companionship of the other volunteers as rewarding as the work itself.

The Boutique attracts all kinds of women as volunteers: those with limited work experience who are looking to build a resume, others who have retired and want to stay connected to their communities as volunteers, and some like me, who want to contribute to society outside of our everyday jobs. There seems to be no end of rewarding challenges available to those of us who want to stretch ourselves by working on new tasks with a diverse group of people, which is one of the greatest advantages of being part of a volunteer-driven organization.

I’m tremendously grateful for the opportunity to work at the Boutique. I’ve made wonderful friends while actively contributing to an organization that supports a cause that truly matters to me.  I would recommend it to anyone who has a few hours a week to spare and is looking to make a difference.

The YWCA International Boutique is located at 81 St. Clair Ave West (inside the Sobey’s mall). See more International Boutique products on our Pinterest board and Facebook album, and don’t forget to like/follow us while you’re there!