When Erin Guillemette moved to Durham Region she didn’t know anyone. She went on a social media website meant to connect nearby people and she volunteered with the Whitby Santa Claus parade to get involved in the community. That’s where she learned about Junior Chamber International (JCI), a group she says “helps people be better.” When she first joined the local JCI chapter there were only five members. Within four years Ms. Guillemette became the president of the Durham chapter and the national vice president across Ontario. With Ms. Guillemette’s help, the #JCI Durham chapter has grown to 25 members. She’s a world champion public speaker, a member on the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and a Big Sister with the Big Brother Big Sister program. Ms. Guillemette is particularly passionate about promoting youth entrepreneurship and finding solutions to the region’s high youth unemployment rates.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your community?
A. The people. When I moved here I knew no one and our community welcomed me with open arms making me feel like this is a place I could call home.
Q. How did you get involved in your job/volunteering?
A. Shortly after moving here for work my boss gave me the job of getting involved in local tech meetups using meetup.com. After playing around on the website looking for work-related groups to join I learned that Meetup was for more than just work…it’s like Internet dating for friends. It is through this site that I found the Durham Young Professional Group which was looking for help planning the Whitby Santa Claus Parade. It turned out that the group planning the parade was Junior Chamber International Durham, a group of young active citizens, between 18 and 40, that helps people be better by providing them development opportunities that empower them to create positive change both within themselves and the world. After learning about this group I was sold. They started me off on my volunteer journey here in Durham and I haven’t looked back since.
Q. What is the most rewarding aspect about your job/volunteering?
A. Again I’m going to say the people. No matter where you are volunteering, you’re making people happy and the world you live in a better place. We are only on this world for so long, let’s make it the best place it can be and ourselves the best people we can be for our time here.
Q. What words of advice would you give someone looking to get involved in their community?
A. What are you passionate about? There are so many opportunities out there to volunteer. Figure out what matters to you and I guarantee the volunteer opportunity will present itself because when you are passionate about something you make it happen.
Q. When you’re not doing working/volunteering how do you spend your free time?
A. I love trying new things. It could be enjoying a new craft beer on a patio, hang gliding, a great new book, trying a new musical instrument or playing a board game all while spending time with my friends and family.
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