Route J-1


Au Pair Finds Meaning Through Volunteering

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2017 at 10:19 pm.

By Camille Ferland, J-1 Au Pair from Canada
A version of the story was originally published in Au Pair in America

Camille volunteering for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the Chicago Triathalon

Camille volunteering for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the Chicago Triathalon

Camille is an au pair from Canada living with her host family in Illinois and is also a State Winner for the 2016 Au Pair Community Service Awards. She shared the following observations on her extensive volunteer work at many fundraisers and community events. 

During this past year working as an au pair, I volunteered for many different causes and events. My first volunteer experience was with a community event, the Sheffield Music Festival and Garden Walk, where I worked as a beverage server. Inspired by the positive feeling that resulted, I explored online and signed up to help out at a charity event called THE Breast Cancer Fundraiser, a fun event raising money to provide care packages for people undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. I sold tickets at the main entrance, helped run the silent auction, and listened to inspiring stories of strength and bravery.

My primary volunteer focus has been with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where I volunteered for three events benefitting the charity. At two of the events, my duties included selling raffle tickets, collecting donations, and thanking donors on behalf of the charity. In just one day, I helped raise over $200,000 at the “Leukemia Cup Poker Run”, and subsequently helped raise $90,000 at the “Red Sky Night” event.

Camille celebrating Canada Day on the beach in Chicago.

Camille celebrating Canada Day on the beach in Chicago.

Leukemia and Lymphoma research holds a very personal meaning to me, as my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer when I was in high school. Thankfully, she is in remission now, and I feel grateful that I can volunteer to support research into finding a cure. I also volunteered for the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon, an event that also benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I worked at the finish line handing out cold, wet towels to the participants finishing the Triathlon. It was so amazing to see participants’ faces at the very moment when they accomplished such an incredible athletic feat, and it inspires me to improve as a runner and a swimmer.

Also volunteering for Surge for Water, a clean water charity, I was able to represent the cause at an upscale charity event.  This involved interacting with guests and encouraging donations, helping to raise $40,000 for clean water projects across the world.  The Chicago Diabetes Project was my next focus, where I participated by running across downtown Chicago holding a large promotional banner as part of a guerrilla-marketing event to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

Camille with her host children in front of the Cloud Gate in Chicago.

Camille with her host children in front of the Cloud Gate in Chicago.

As part of my au pair weekend class curriculum, I volunteered at a homeless shelter at the Cornerstone Community Outreach, and sorted through clothing donations for those in need. It was a great way to make at least a little difference in the lives of people facing poverty and homelessness in Chicago.

There are so many different ways to get involved in the community and make a difference in the lives of people struggling with an illness or poverty, both locally and internationally. These experiences have taught me that Americans highly value volunteering as well as donating to a good cause. My volunteer experience has been very meaningful and enjoyable, and has helped me realize a passion for the non-profit sector. I plan to continue to help others through volunteer work, wherever in the world I end up next.

Categories: Program Spotlight

About G. Kevin Saba

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange


G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.

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