To mark Nationwide Volunteer Week, meet 4 Torontonians who’re making town a greater place

Harley Karulis, Toronto Historical past Walks

Parkdale resident Harley Karulis used his love of local history as a springboard for his volunteer efforts as a tour guide with Toronto History Walks.

Parkdale resident Harley Karulis used his love of native historical past as a springboard for his volunteer efforts as a tour information with Toronto History Walks.

Karulis’s ardour was ignited when, as a child, he attended the one centesimal anniversary of the CNE and his mother and father purchased him a e book on the historical past of the grounds. “I turned enthralled with the Struggle of 1812,” Karylis remembers, “and amazed that American troopers just about got here proper via my yard.”

Karulis has led near 600 excursions, together with walks via historic Church Road, the previous Garrison Creek, native cemeteries, even the PATH. Along with sharing Toronto’s lesser-known tales, Karulis says his excursions fill one other void.

“It appeared like there was even a much bigger want for togetherness through the pandemic,” he says. After happening his walks throughout lockdown, many reached out to inform Karulis how his excursions turned one thing of a lifeline.

Earlier than the pandemic, Karulis’s excursions have been made up of about 25 per cent locals, together with many new Torontonians, and 75 per cent out of towners. “Guests like to match their cities with Toronto, or with Canada,” he says, whereas current residents use the excursions to discover and find out about their new residence.

For Karulis, Toronto’s historical past is central to its identification. “I feel it’s an essential manner of preserving town vibrant and alive and the fantastic place it’s,” he says. “We must always wish to perceive the way it’s modified through the years, and the individuals who formed it, for good and unhealthy.”

Ed Drass, Travellers’ Help Toronto

Ed Drass gives information to travellers at the Travellers’ Aid info kiosk in the Great Hall at Union Station.

Volunteering with Travellers’ Aid Toronto was an ideal match for Ed Drass. “I’m a little bit of a know-it-all concerning the metropolis,” he admits. “And I like transit and transportation. With the ability to assist individuals whereas being in probably the most lovely rooms within the metropolis is a bonus.”

Situated within the Nice Corridor at Union Station and staffed fully by volunteers, Traveller’s Help helps guests discover sights to see, a spot to remain, or just their method to their subsequent cease. It additionally provides a pleasant native to somebody who’s confused, panicked or misplaced – a frequent situation, in response to Drass. “Somebody involves the sales space in tears as a result of they’ve missed their practice. And there aren’t any extra trains,” Drass says. “Job primary is to assist them take care of the stress, to assist them settle down. This expertise typically leaves individuals with a deeper connection to town.”

Olga Nabatova, Stage in Streetsville

Multimedia artist Olga Nabatova handles stage setup and props for Stage in Streetsville, a volunteer-based children’s theatre group in Mississauga.

Multimedia artist Olga Nabatova handles stage setup and props for Stage in Streetsville, a volunteer-based youngsters’s theatre group in Mississauga that gathers each Sunday. “It’s my accountability – my ardour – to show this previous constructing right into a fortress or funeral or magic forest or wherever we’re placing on stage,” she says.

Even a pandemic couldn’t cease the theatre, which has been serving to youngsters embrace the humanities since 1998. Nabatova says they arrive collectively to learn books, discuss literature, and apply drama and dance, placing on 5 performances a 12 months. “We truly had a efficiency final December outdoors once they have been allowed solely 25 individuals in a yard,” Nabatova says. And the group gathering doesn’t cease on the stage.

“We set [the stage] for efficiency. Put out chairs, prefer it’s an viewers, after which all our people who find themselves coming — we all know everybody, it’s prefer it’s a household — we deliver meals for a potluck,” she says, “after which we’ve a little bit little bit of dinner. After which we’ve dancing for the children.”

Floyd Ruskin, Don’t Mess with the Don

Floyd Ruskin is a member of Don't Mess With the Don, an advocacy group devoted to protecting the Don River.

“Nature-loving, granola-munching Torontonians” is how Don’t Mess with the Don, an advocacy group dedicated to defending the Don River, describes itself on its web site.

“We face a worldwide local weather disaster. We really feel we may be best by considering globally, however performing regionally,” says Floyd Ruskin. “The Don is Canada’s most city river and has suffered untold abuse from trade and manufacturing air pollution in addition to inhabitants development.”

The group, which fashioned in 2017, used to targeted on large-scale cleanups, scheduled effectively upfront, with greater than 800 individuals turning out to assist. “Now, we do what I name pop-ups,” Ruskin says. The group will submit on social media a couple of days upfront of a weekend cleanup and people nonetheless come out in droves.

“I consider the work we do like an old school barn-raising. A farmer’s home burns down, and days later your complete village reveals as much as rebuild the barn,” Ruskin says. “And I’ll inform you from expertise, individuals in Toronto are comfortable to assist out.”


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