Volunteer Impact: The Inspiring Journey of Julie and Imane

The spirit of volunteering and the joy it brings is on full display at Alderney Gate Public Library, where a story of connection, learning, and cultural exchange continues to write itself each week at our English Language Learning (ELL) sessions. As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, we take a look at the story of Julie McDermott, a dedicated volunteer, alongside Imane El Haimeur, an eager learner, and a journey that has impacted both their lives.

A Meeting of Minds and Cultures

"It's been a little over three years now," says Julie, a Certified financial planner by day, about the time she's generously volunteered with the ELL Program.

Balancing a busy career and personal commitments, she discovered a perfect outlet for her philanthropic spirit.

"I was looking for something that could fit into my work schedule and my life and something that would allow me to contribute in a meaningful way," says Julie. "When newcomers come to Canada, it's so important that they receive the support they need, and this program felt like a direct way to make that impact."

"Imane is actually my second learner through this program," adds Julie.

For Imane, moving from Morocco to Canada in the summer of 2021 was a journey filled with aspirations of integrating into her new community of Dartmouth and the professional finance world.

"My priority was to enhance my communication skills," says Imane. "I was still blocking a lot in the speaking part, searching for vocabulary or finding the best ways to express myself."

Bridging Languages, Creating Confidence

Julie and Imane's Tuesday evening ELL meet-ups transcend typical tutoring sessions. From figuring out idioms to sharing laughs, their bond helps to build community, cultural understanding, and confidence.

"Imane's language skills were always good—it was the confidence piece that was missing," says Julie. "She is a lot more confident now, which is so wonderful to see."

Imane has found in Julie not just a tutor but a guide and friend who encourages her to express herself freely, boosting her self-belief immensely.

Their bond is further strengthened by their shared professional backgrounds in finance—this special that adds another layer of relatability and understanding.

Food, Friendship, and Shared Journeys

In addition to their similarities, it's their differences that enrich their time together—always providing an opportunity to learn something completely new.

Julie and Imane's relationship has deepened over cultural exchanges, highlighting the unique bonds formed through the program. Their connection has evolved beyond language learning, into a genuine friendship, fostered by shared experiences, and being foodies.

"The sharing of food, in particular, has become a beautiful part of our relationship," says Julie, reflecting on the cultural exchange that has become a part of their friendship. "Imane has taught me so much about Morocco and its culture, especially the cuisine. She describes her country and its traditions so beautifully, and we talk about food a lot, which is something we both love."

Making an Impact

If the power of friendship and community wasn't enough, Imane's time spent with Julie has significantly impacted her professional and personal life—one English lesson at a time.

"Working on my speaking skills helped me a lot with regards to communication at work. My colleagues also noticed the progress," says Imane, who notes her journey continues. "My dream is to continue learning and improving English. The next step would be maybe to continue studies in finance."

"I would 100 per cent recommend the ELL program at the library— it's a great opportunity to practice and learn new things," she adds.

And Imane isn't the only one to experience the impact of volunteering.

"This is one of those volunteer activities that doesn't just help someone else—it enriches your own life in so many ways," says Julie. "Volunteering with the ELL program gives me a sense of purpose outside of my regular job. It's incredibly rewarding to know you're making a difference, and it's a way for me to feel like I'm giving back to the community in a broader sense."

Inspired to Make a Difference?

As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, the story of Julie and Imane inspires and shows how anyone can contribute to and enrich our community. Through skill sharing, cultural exchange, or simply giving an hour or two—the impact of simple acts can be profound.

Ready to contribute to our vibrant community? Discover the joy of volunteering with us. Learn more and get involved here, opens a new window.

In celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Week, we're reminded of the transformative power of volunteerism, the joy of shared experiences, and the lasting impact of genuine connections. To all our volunteers, thank you for making a difference every day.