Olena Shevelenko arrived in Canada from Ukraine in 2022 with a master’s degree in philology that qualified her as a linguist, interpreter, and teacher, and experience as an executive assistant.
But like many newcomers to Canada, Olena encountered challenges finding work despite extensive experience – and opted to volunteer with Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) to better her chances.
“[The] idea was to gain Canadian experience, obtain references, and expand my professional network,” Olena said.
“However, as soon as I embarked on this journey, I felt a deep sense of fulfillment.”
Olena says she realized she can assist and support others in their newcomer journey by providing information, encouragement, and guidance.
And those working with her have taken notice of her commitment.
“[Olena] exhibits excellent communication skills and welcoming attitude to supporting clients, facilitating their appointments, and making it a warm and comfortable environment for them,” ISC volunteer coordinator Maram Hajjo said.
“We would not have been successful without her dedication.”
Olena has now dedicated over 187 volunteer hours to the client care team at ISC, and in capacities that include interpretation and administrative work.
It has made her feel needed and useful, she says – and she has no intention of stopping.
According to Olena, volunteer work fosters compassion, empathy, and the belief in our collective ability to make a positive difference.
“I will continue volunteering my time because it has evolved beyond mere assistance for me,” she said.
“It has become a profound expression and testament of our shared humanity.”
“Olena’s enthusiasm and commitment are remarkable as she consistently goes above and beyond in supporting newcomer families build their life in Canada. Olena is truly making a difference in the lives of many. We truly appreciate having Olena as a Client Care Volunteer!”