SAAAC Spotlight: Volunteer Coordinator
The work seems to be mounting quickly for Jallaja Pararajasingham, SAAAC’s volunteer coordinator. “With the school year just beginning and as SAAAC continues to grow, a lot of people want to get involved and help” says Jallaja as she examines emails from individuals interested in volunteering opportunities. It was a year ago when Jallaja wrote a similar email, inquiring about volunteering with SAAAC. “I was heading into my final year at UofT, majoring in health science and I thought volunteering with an organization that focuses on some aspect of health would help me get a greater understanding of the field I wanted to pursue”. Jallaja spent a year volunteering with the organization before getting the title of volunteer coordinator. “My experience as a volunteer is similar to many others that join SAAAC. Initially, there is a bit of nervousness and apprehension, but as you become more accustomed to working with children with ASD and being part of a team that has great healthcare professionals who are awesome trainers and mentors, you become more confident in yourself and your skills.”
Like many students her age, Jallaja tries to keep a delicate balance between her academic and extracurricular life. In addition to pursuing her degree, Jallaja is a talented dance choreographer, leading the dance portion of Agni – a multi-talented musical group which perform across Canada and the United States. In addition, Jallaja is also a talented singer, performing at events that range from small, intimate gatherings to large crowds at cultural events. “Yeah it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy all of it. The friends I have made, the great places I have seen, and the skills that I have gained from being around such creative and intelligent people makes all the work worth it” says Jallaja.
As a volunteer coordinator Jallaja’s responsibilities range from screening potential volunteers, finding the right fit between a child and a volunteer, and being part of a team that trains new volunteers. “It’s a great job” says Jallaja. “To help new volunteers come into the organization and grow in terms of their confidence, skill set, and ultimately as individuals…it is a wonderful thing to see, and it’s a privilege to be part of that whole process”.
When asked what people get out of volunteering with SAAAC, Jallaja states that, “volunteering is a great way to help out your community and those who need help, but I think an important aspect of volunteering is discovering things about yourself. You get to find out your strengths, weaknesses, and where your interests are. I think that type of self knowledge will help you make better decisions about where you want to go in terms of your career and your life. Personally, it has been an enriching part of my life and I know it can be for many others too.”