As the winter is finally passing and the warmth of summer is within reach, I wanted to share with my Toronto friends a wonderful volunteering opportunity that really changed my life. A few summers ago, when I was in the middle of so many life changes that left me a little bit lost, I knew it was time to make some changes in my life. I needed to stop thinking about just myself and I knew that if I started looking at how my life could help others, that I would eventually find my way again. I remembered my friend Julian had mentioned that the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario was in need of volunteers so after work I dropped by their little office to see what I could do. This sailing club provides people living with a disability the opportunity to learn about and enjoy sailing.
I volunteered as a sailing companion and was able to learn how to sail, spend my summer surrounded by water, and hang out with some of the best company I’ve ever had. I met more inspirational and positive people that summer than I have in my whole life. They showed me that you can overcome any obstacle with the right mind set. One particularly amazing person that I met was Joseph Chessari who had both of his legs severed above the knee, a year earlier in a work place accident. You would have never known from speaking to him that the accident had been so recent. There was never any traces of anger or bitterness. Just appreciation for the life that he still had, and the determination that he was going to do everything that anyone else could do. And he really does! He now runs, swims, rock climbs, paddle boards and pretty much is just an awesome rock star! Visit his site walkingwithnewlegs.com and learn more about his story and his initiatives to support and encourage other amputees.
It was also at this club that I met a boy who’s genuine desire to help others, and unmeasurable understanding and empathy, still continues to push me to achieve more from my life. He truly is the best person I’ve ever met and I’m so lucky that he lets me be a part of his life. I promise you that while you volunteer here, you’ll meet at least one person that changes your life. You’ll be constantly surrounded by amazing stories, strong people, and open minds. I really couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my first summer in Toronto and highly encourage you to get involved.
283B Queen’s Quay West (Toronto’s harbourfront area)
Open from May to September.
Days: Wednesday – Sunday
Hours: 11 AM – 7 PM
Sail sessions: 12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM
Racing: Wednesday – 6 PM