She began at age 14 and never left
Published: February 10, 2006 | 3490th good news item since 2003
Sometimes people get involved with volunteer organizations because they simply want references to pad their resumes. It’s only with time that the experience becomes an end in itself.
But for17-year-old volunteer Stacey Bateman, helping others is its own reward — one that hasn’t lost its novelty over time.
“Her heart is in this direction,” says Judy Endecott, of Community Living Toronto, one of the many places at which Bateman volunteers.
“She likes to be busy and she likes to be helpful. She came here when she was 14 and she never left.”
When Bateman first began volunteering at Community Living Toronto she just wanted to keep busy by casually volunteering her time. She was open-minded and curious, and quickly absorbed everything she was taught.
Bateman took part in the adult literacy program for adults and has continued to do so consistently until this day. It is something she thoroughly enjoys.
“Someone mentioned Community Living, about people with intellectual disabilities, so I called up and I got placed in the literacy program,” says Bateman. “I loved it so much that I didn’t want to leave.”
Almost four years later, Bateman has volunteered at the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf and Blind, the Helen Keller Society and the Achilles Track Club. She has even has run her own events, and initiated and coordinated fundraisers. And it goes on — her history of volunteering is almost too long to list.
Bateman has received various awards for her community service, including two this year: The Violet Richardson Award and The East Toronto Rotary Club Award. She is also fluent in American Sign Language and is in the process of learning blind-deaf communication.
Not a bad track record for someone who just finished high school with an 80 percent average and an Ontario Scholarship.
So how does she manage it all and make it seem so easy?
“I’m up very early — every morning at 5 a.m.,” she says. “That’s the only way I’m able to do all that I do.”
That, of course, leads to the inevitable question: how does a teenager – or anyone for that matter – get up every morning at such an abominable hour?
“I like to keep to my commitments,” she says. “But, really, it’s because I love what I do.”
Bateman wants to turn her charitable acts into a career and plans to realize this dream at George Brown College this September. While she plans to study to become an intervenor — a guide and interpreter for individuals who are deaf and blind — she hopes to stay involved with Community Living Toronto.
Despite the prospect of a hectic study schedule and a job after that, Bateman says she’s sure about one thing — she’ll always be volunteering, as helping people is a lifelong priority, which is fun and enjoyable.
Endecott, who has known her for years, is still in awe.
“She’s unbelievable. She’s really great.”