Building a Sense of Belonging

This week’s #GiveToGrow #SummerStorySeries feature spotlights Tito, a volunteer who found a sense of belonging at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House upon moving to Vancouver. In his own words, Tito expresses his gratitude for the support he received when developing his career.

My name is Tito Perez, and I came to Canada as a refugee from Mexico in 2019. I was lonely, scared, and stressed, and didn’t know where to go. I was thinking about my family back home. Mexico is great, and people love to visit my country, but I must think of my safety. I have a family in Mexico – a wife and three children I must feed. My children want me to come home. I told them that one day we will be together again, but in the meantime, take care of yourselves and study. Everyday of my life in Canada, I worry about the safety of my family back home.

Here I’m a community service man. I want to thank Canada for accepting and keeping me safe. People here are from different parts of the world but respect each other’s culture. For this, I wanted to give back to the Canadian community and, as I was searching and looking for ways to be useful to this community, I thought of volunteering. Someone in the community told me about South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH). A friend introduced me to the Community Food Navigator about the opportunity to volunteer, and I was accepted as a volunteer in the Food Hub program. I sort and bag food, set up, clean up, deliver and other things that need to be done. I meet people every week, and I feel like I belong. I am loved, and my skills are valued.

I also took English classes to improve my speaking and writing while waiting for my work permit.

When I received my work permit, the first person I called was SVNH staff. It changed my life tremendously. I found a job very quickly because of my volunteer experience. SVNH was my reference for every job application that I sent. Currently, I work as a delivery person. I have the opportunity to drive different kinds of vehicles, big and small. I like this job a lot. I also work part-time for a moving company, which inspires me to know that I have the capacity to be a businessman – I dream of having my own moving company. Of course, I will ask for the support of SVNH.

In volunteering, I practice my English communication, gain friends, gain skills and gain my self esteem.

When I started volunteering at SVNH, I found a community where I can share my culture, meet new people from different backgrounds and, most importantly, make friends. In this community, I socialize, learn, and get involved in the activities.

My hope is to bring my family to safety. I dream of the day that my family joins me here, and I will take them to SVNH to see for themselves the place that supported me, and the community that I belong to. I will tell them that this is the reason they are here in Canada.

Because Canada is a diverse country, I will educate my children to respect everyone regardless of their background.

I want my children to achieve their goals.  My older one wants to become a doctor, the second one wants to be a chef, and the youngest one is interested in dinosaurs.

I know that my children will have more opportunities here than in my country because of the political situation where they are.

I would like to end my story by thanking everyone at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and BCSIS for providing funds that help support people from other countries.


Thank you Tito for sharing your story.

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