I believe in giving back to the community. In 2010, York University's Senate awarded me its highest honour: The President's Medal. It is given to a graduating undergraduate for high academics and service to the University's community.

In all, I have volunteered nearly 5,000 hours since 2004.

 

York University Volunteering

 

Existere - Journal of Arts and Literature

In 2007, I revived the then-recently-defunct literary magazine. Existere was founded in 1978 and I felt this was too good an opportunity to let languish. I revived the journal, assembled a team, trained them, and redesigned the journal, strategized its focus and marketing, created a website, created social media outlets, and set about pulling together its first issue. I was its publisher, executive editor, communications director, marketing manager, and mentor to 20-25 students each year. For eight years now, twice per year, we publish an high-quality literary magazine that is distributed nationally (and internationally, via web sales). In my capacity as Vanier College Fellow, I continue to mentor and oversee the journal as its publisher and editor emeritus. I have logged over 2,000 volunteer hours here.

 

York University Mature Students' Organization (YUMSO)

In 2004, I began attending undergraduate studies as a mature student. I sought out peers and services and found us scattered to the winds and largely overlooked. I founded this group and served as its president, director of communications, and events manager for four years. During that time, we grew to over 600 members making it the University's second-largest of over 250 clubs. However, YUMSO was much more than a club. During my advocacy, I was able to change University policy to better serve this constituency - which comprised about 20% of the student population. Working with the VP Academic, the Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students (ACMAPS) was founded to act as a service bureau for these students in place of the volunteering I was doing in this capacity of student advising. Through YUMSO, I was able to also inspire the generation or revival of similar clubs and organizations at universities and colleges throughout Ontario and in far-flung regions such as Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Alberta, and the USA. ACMAPS continues today. I was a member of its advisory board during its first five years and a member of the review committee in 2013 to evaluate its past and strategize its future. I have logged over 1,800 volunteer hours serving mature students.

 

Canadian Assembly of Mature Student Organizations (CAMSO)

I have recently begun building CAMSO as a network of clubs and service bureaus serving mature students across Canada. The goal is to improve advocacy through improved communications and the sharing of strategic information.

 

Red Cross / Canadian Blood Services

52 units of whole blood donated to date.

 

Kalachakra 2004

In 2004, I spent nine days with the Dalai Lama as a volunteer. The Tibetan community put out a call for help with the Kalachakra which was being held in Toronto that year. Because I am tall and looked imposing (yet friendly) I was detailed to VIP security section. That meant I stood by the stage at the VIP section letting the VIPs like monks and movie star Richard Gere in and gently steering non-VIPs respectfully back to their seats. Nobody was ever in any danger. Tibetan security and plain-clothes RCMP were standing a few metres further back. I learned a lot about Tibetan culture, cuisine, art, and Buddhism. My time here led directly to my volunteering at York University and elsewhere.

Kalachakra 2004 

 

Words Alive Literary Festival

From 2009-2011, I acted as publicist, media strategist, co-organizer, and talent-wrangler for the festival which was held annually in York Region at the Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum. This unique structure and grounds was an inspired setting for readings of poetry, plays, and short stories as well as performances of song and spoken word. It was a highlight of the region's Fall entertainment calendar. Esteemed guests included winners and nominees of Canada's highest awards in literature and poetry (Governor General's Award, Giller Prize, and Griffin Prize).