Co-founders Livleen, Kiran, Ashley and Amanbir talk about their organization that raises awareness on global issues and encourages community volunteerism
Livleen Pannu, Kiran Mann, Ashley Grewal and Amanbir Atwal are the founders and directors of Youth Transforming Society (YTS), a student-run group that raises awareness on global issues and encourages community volunteerism. They have raised over $12,000 for organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, Oxfam and BC Children’s Hospital. The society has grown from the original team of four in 2010, to more than 20 members and over 100 volunteers today. Kiran, Ashley, Livleen and Aman are a group of 20 year olds who attend the University of British Columbia - Kiran and Ashley study Integrated Sciences, Livleen studies Nutritional Sciences, and Aman studies Developmental Biology.
The organization was founded after to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. Kiran explains, “Prior to the earthquake, we were all quite involved in volunteer work at our schools and in our community, but we wanted to take the next step and take on more of a leadership role. The devastation in Haiti gave us a reason to come together and initiate our first fundraiser.”
Livleen adds, “We were incredibly surprised and grateful to raise $1,000 for Haiti relief that year, and the success of this first fundraiser gave us the encouragement and motivation to keep going. From there, we were able to expand the team, expand the scope of our projects, and become a more established and mature group.”
YTS puts on annual events like a food drive for the Surrey Food Bank, a school supply drive for The Salvation Army and a volunteer fair. Their monthly efforts include street clean ups. On top of all this, they also organize events for current issues that arise. Ashley gives an example of one of these events, “After the earthquake in Nepal in April this year, we organized a series of Krispy Kreme doughnut sales to fundraise for relief efforts, and were able to raise $2,000 to donate to Oxfam.”
These types of events are organized by dividing the team into four groups, each led by one founder. Kiran explains that each group has a specific role. “The external affairs team will make initial contact with the organization or business we will be working with and secure sponsorships for the event. The internal affairs team will ensure we have enough volunteers and funding for the event to run smoothly. The events team will coordinate the logistics and planning for the day of the event. And the marketing team is responsible for making promotion materials and advertising the event.”
Ashley believes their most successful project has been their annual volunteer fair, which brought out over 50 organizations this year (the Surrey Memorial Hospital, YMCA, and City of Surrey to name a few) to provide over 500 students with information on volunteer opportunities. “We were extremely grateful to be able to reach out to such a large number of youth and help them get involved,” she says.
YTS has events coming up in the next few months, one of them being their fourth annual Flowers for Happiness Campaign in February. Through this event, the organization is planning to make 700 hand-made flowers to show their support to women at shelters around the Lower Mainland, including the Surrey Women’s Shelter, Battered Women’s Support Services, and the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley. They are also planning to launch new projects, including one which will aim to address the stigma of mental illness in the South Asian community.
Aman explains that YTS’s message to youth is: “There are hundreds of diverse volunteer opportunities available in our community, and whether your interests lie in education, sports, the environment, or social justice, there is an organization out there that will be right for you.”
In the future, they plan to create more projects and campaigns, as well as continue to organize annual events to foster positive change.
Those interested in getting involved with YTS can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their website:-
Photo Credit: Tanisha Dosanj - TK Photography