As a landed immigrant, there are things that one has to become accustomed to. One of these is volunteerism. In the Philippines, volunteerism is not a common practice. It was Bessie Pinon, a settlement officer at the Multicultural Helping House Society, who broached the idea and encouraged me to volunteer at MHHS. She told me that volunteering at a government-funded institution would benefit me in my job search. Shortly after, I signed up as a volunteer receptionist. While the shift was short, I gained a lot from learning the ropes of operating a multi-line telephone system and interacting with callers, visitors and the MHHS personnel. This paved the way for me to be accepted as a temp employee of a well-known temp agency in BC. MHHS was my work reference and I thank Tessie Rodriguez for the accommodation. Now I am employed as a temp to hire. The rest is up to me. Thank you for the support MHHS, especially Tatay Tom!
I volunteered at Multicultural Helping House Society from January to June 2012. They assigned me to do reception work which fit in very well with the program I completed at the Vancouver Community College, which was the eight month Administrative Assistant Program. AT MHHS, I managed telephone calls, made sure intake forms were filled out by new clients, and joined in activities at the centre. This volunteer work helped me land my current job as administrative assistant with a non-profit organization. Employers always look for Canadian experience. My work with MHHS helped me gain confidence in responding to telephone queries and transferring calls. It also helped me answer interview questions with potential employers - questions like ‘What was the most difficult experience you had with clients and how did you deal with it?’ With my MHHS experience I could cite Canadian examples. I enjoyed my work as a receptionist at the Multicultural Helping House Society as I got to meet many Filipino newcomers. The needs of caregivers who were looking to get open visas and permanent resident status became familiar to me. It was also heartwarming to see Filipino-Canadian seniors learn to email and keep in touch through Facebook after having been taught by young members of the MHHS’ youth group.
This is to ALL the MHHS staff, especially Desiree, Ernesto and Jane. They provided exceptional customer service and assistance! My friend E’lana and I came to MHHS because we wanted our taxes done. The staff went above and beyond in helping, supporting and providing information for the both of us. I was moved and honoured by the staff's kindness and knowledge. Thank you to all. We will, without hesitation, tell everyone about how amazing your services are! Blessings and be well.
"The service provided for my family by Multicultural Helping House Society has been a great help to us. The information given to me with regards to immigration procedures, as well as emotional, social and financial support have helped us a lot. The staff has always been professional and accessible. You can have full confidence, assuming that you provide all the documents requested of you, that your expectations will be met. In summation, we wholeheartedly recommend the non-profit organization, Multicultural Helping House Society, for all the help our family received.
This is the account of how the Society helped us:
My husband, our 19-month old child and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport on 1st February 2011 as newly-landed immigrants. Unfortunately, while we had been eagerly waiting in the immigration queue, my husband suddenly collapsed and severely hit his head on the floor. He was unconscious. The airport paramedics arrived immediately and gave him primary treatment. He was soon transported to the Vancouver General Hospital for further medical investigation.
At the hospital, some Filipino staff approached me and offered help as they knew we were strangers in this place. And within a few hours, the Vice President of the Multicultural Helping Society, Mr. Amado, and his wife arrived to comfort me. The next day, my husband had brain surgery, and afterwards was kept in the ICU for almost 2 weeks.
During these days, the Multicultural Helping House Society helped me process all the official documents for immigration. They had accompanied me to the airport to get our passports. The immigration authority issued a one-year temporary resident permit instead of giving permanent residence, because we were not able to complete all the necessary assessments at the immigration desk at that time.
However, I was very grateful. Tatay Tom – the President & CEO – and Tania Dina, the Settlement Counsellor of the Multicultural Helping Society were there comforting us. I was able to get a working permit for one year and apply for a SIN and an MSP.
My husband was out of the ICU and had been transferred to the Neurosciences ICU. He later regained consciousness and could recognize people. But still, he had an endotracheal tube in his neck. The physiotherapist helped him walk on his feet with assistance. The first week of February, I went to the hospital accounts section and was shocked to see the bill, which contained a prodigious 6-digit figure. There was no way that we could afford to pay off that bill. For the first 4 months we had no source of income other than donations from the community. So we had to spend almost all the money that we brought from our home country.
My husband was discharged from the Vancouver General Hospital and transferred to the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, where he stayed for one month. Our medical bill was growing higher and higher. At that point, the staff advised us to go home in order to keep the bill down.
Right now, I’m glad that my husband is recovering quickly. The Multicultural Helping House Society staff provided me job search training, and eventually I got a job. They also helped me rent a house. After facing these challenges since our arrival on February 1st 2011, we finally received approval from the CIC to become permanent residents. We are now in a much better place than the day my husband fell but we still a have a long way to go to live up to the expectations and dreams we carried here."
As a nurse by profession, I was excited to get my license and start working as soon as I migrated to Canada in September of 2011. Soon, I found out that there is a long process involved in this journey. I attended workshops on job searching since I knew it would take a while before I start my nursing career which, later on I found out, entailed one year of schooling in the Nurses’ Re-Entry Program. I started to actively look for a job in January of 2012, sending out at least 3-5 résumés a day to various companies I saw on the web which I felt I was qualified for. From January to March, all I did was search for jobs and apply but to no avail.
I stumbled upon the Multicultural Helping House Society in March by accident because I needed assistance in tax filing. When I went there, I was told that I could apply as a volunteer. Since there wasn’t much to do, I applied and got accepted. I volunteered as a receptionist and met a lot of people, assisted visitors in the office, and answered phone calls from all sorts of people needing information. By the time I was called for a job interview, I had written down MHHS as my current employer and luckily, got accepted as an office assistant in ICBC Claim Centre here in Kingsway, Vancouver.
I never really understood the concept of volunteerism until I lived here in Canada. Canadians always talk about volunteering for all sorts of things and I volunteered just to be able to do something. Later on, I began to realize how many people MHHS has helped by doing what they do and that I was, in fact, a part of it. It was an amazing experience to be able to give selflessly and help others. This is how I was able to contribute to our society and make use of my time productively. In addition, volunteering gave me a chance to get the Canadian experience employers always look for. I was able to be of help and I was given a great referral by MHHS, for which I will always be grateful.
We gratefully recognize that our workplace is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (TsleilWaututh) Nations, and we respectfully acknowledge their historical and continuing relationship with the land.