NEAT – Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto

WHAT IS NEAT – NEWCOMERS EXPLORE AND APPRECIATE TORONTO?

NEAT is a unique mentorship program designed to help new immigrants/ convention refugees gain hands-on “Canadian Work” experience in event planning, project management and social media marketing. NEAT mentorship program runs all year round and, in the winter, it is called “Wintegration”.

Newcomers are matched with Mentors for a period of 4-6 months approx. and work as a team to Explore Toronto — in person and now due to COVID-19, they can discover Toronto virtually. After getting to know Toronto and its neighbourhoods, NEAT groups plan and organize at least two free guided tours/ outdoor/ indoor activities — such as guided tours of various parts of the city, nature walks and hikes, a sports game (e.g. badminton, cricket, etc.) in the park, scavenger hunt, Haunted Toronto tours and in the winter — board game nights, winter hiking, snow sculpture competition, sledding, trip to ice-fest, or Holiday lights and sights, etc. These events/activities are open to the public and specifically geared towards newcomers to Canada to help them get acquainted with Canada’s outdoor and social culture. The NEAT groups post and promote their events to the public using the meetup group (www.meetup.com/NEATwalks). By working together, NEAT volunteers, both mentors and newcomers get to practice their public speaking, working with small and large audiences, learning new skills (such as using the virtual platforms, or event planning steps, risk management and social media promotion and management, etc.). We match newcomers and mentors based on the geographical area but due to covid-19, this is not a must. During the speed-matching sessions, both mentors and newcomer volunteers will be able to meet with others and able to choose based on their interests, area or types of events, etc.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all NEAT meetings with mentors and newcomers, orientation sessions and events are being organized virtually via Zoom and will return to in-person when recommended.

All possible in-person activities/events are subject to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Please contact Rubeen Chauhan for any information related to becoming a Mentor or Newcomer Event Planner as well as for upcoming orientation sessions at:

Cell: 437-249-7103 (available on WeChat and WhatsApp)

Office Phone: 416-588-6288 x 231

Email: rchauhan@culturelink.ca


Join as a Newcomer Volunteer Event Planner:

  • Are you a newcomer looking for hands-on “Canadian” work experience?
  • Are you interested in event planning and social media marketing?
  • Do you enjoy history, architecture, nature and sharing your knowledge with others?
  • Do you enjoy walking, exploring and meeting new people?
  • Do you want to learn new skills or enhance your public speaking skills?
  • Are you looking for flexible volunteer hours that would fit well with your schedule?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, THAT’S NEAT!

The time commitment is 4-6 months and the target is to organize a minimum of 2 events/ activities. 

Eligibility:

  • Must be an immigrant or convention refugee over the age of 18 (we require a copy of immigrant/refugee status document)
  • Must be able to commit to the program for a period of 4 to 6 months
  • Willingness to travel within Toronto
  • Ability to walk for a couple of hours or more
  • Willingness to spend time outdoors during fall/winter
  • Interest in exploring Toronto, organizing winter activities, learning new skills, openness to new ideas and using one’s full potential
  • Ability/willingness to work in a team as well as independently
  • English Language Level 4 and up is encouraged.
  • Due to COVID-19 most of the meetings and exploration is being done virtually. Therefore, it would benefit the Newcomer Volunteers if they have experience with technology, using various online platforms or they are willing to explore and learn.

Click for NEAT newcomer registration form and click for the NEAT program flyer for Newcomers.

We ask our Newcomer Event Planners to sign off Media Release and Liability Waiver. Newcomer Event Planners also sign off a volunteer agreement which highlights their role and time commitment.

We provide a certificate of completion and a general reference letter if required.


Join as a Volunteer Mentor:

Eligibility:

  • Interest in outdoor events and activities
  • Interest in working with new immigrants and refugees
  • Available to commit to work with newcomer volunteers for at least 4-6 months and help organize at least 2 guided tours/activities.
  • Must be 19 years of age or older and have life experience of living in Canada for 5 years or more.
  • Must attend a volunteer orientation session and NEAT orientation/networking session
  • Provide two references and police clearance
  • Mentors are required to report monthly meeting hours and activities.
  • Due to COVID-19 most of the meetings and exploration is being done virtually. Therefore, it would benefit the Newcomer Volunteers if Mentors have experience with technology, using various online platforms or they are willing to explore and learn.

Interested mentors can sign up online at MyImpactPage.com (please use this direct link). In your profile, under “Your most preferred mentoring activity”, sub-section of “Placement Preferences”, please select “NEAT Walking” which represents the NEAT Mentorship Program.

The online profile includes information of two references (name, email & phone). References cannot be related to the applicant.

We require Level 1 Police Clearance which can be applied online or in-person and costs about $20 in Toronto. CultureLink reimburses this cost after receiving the original clearance letter and receipt of payment. We also accept copies of a valid police record check if available. Volunteers residing out of Toronto will also be reimbursed a maximum of $20 because the cost of Level 1 Police Check may vary within GTA and could be higher. Police Check is required only if you decide to become a mentor with NEAT program.

Most orientation Sessions, Networking/Match Meetings and training are held at CultureLink’s office: 2340 Dundas Street West, Suite 301 (Near Dundas West Subway station). However, due to covid-19, all sessions are taking place virtually via zoom.

We ask our Volunteer Mentors to sign off Media Release and Liability Waiver. Volunteer Mentors also sign off a volunteer agreement that highlights their role and time commitment.

We provide certificate of completion and a general reference letter if required.

Click for NEAT Volunteer Mentor Flyer.

Please scroll to the top of the page for contact information.


Partnership with Arts in the Parks

For the past several years, NEAT has partnered with Arts in the Parks to provide interested individuals opportunities to volunteer as “Arts in the Parks Ambassadors”.
Arts in the Parks offer volunteer opportunities all around Toronto starting from June till September, throughout the week. Shifts can be 2 to 6 hours long. In order to get a certificate, we encourage that you volunteer for at least 3 shifts.

Arts in the Parks Ambassador are the face of the Toronto Arts Foundation at each and every Arts Park across the city. Ambassadors have the opportunity to get involved in multiple ways throughout the event:

• Assisting with setting up and tearing down
• Simple signage pre/post-event
• Distributing brochures to audience members and passersby
• Answering questions about the event, park, and the Toronto Arts Foundation
• Conducting short audience surveys post-event
• …and more

If you are interested in various forms of art, exploring the beautiful parks of Toronto, love outdoor activities and enjoy meeting new people, this is a position for you!

Anyone can volunteer with the Arts in the Parks!

Training is provided via Arts in the Parks!

For information/questions, contact Rubeen Chauhan at: 437-249-7103 (cell)/ 416-588-6288 x 231 / rchauhan@culturelink.ca.

Due to COVID-19 this program is not available in 2020. Please check back with us in April 2021 or after.

Testimonials

“Thank you very much for the trip yesterday to Terra Cotta Conservation Area. We enjoyed it a lot. It was super and a great experience for us. We walked, saw a lake, learned about animals, tress and forest, touched the beaver pelt, beaver jaw, deer antlers, turtle shell. The children played and took a lot of photos. It was fun[ny]. Thank you again.”

-Sara, Ruslana, Gabriela