Volunteering at Family Welcome

Friday, September 9, 2016

On September 4th and 5th alumni, faculty and staff joined the housing and residence teams at the Family Welcome, where they were positioned in different residences to greet family and friends of our newest Warriors. Karen Carter (BA ’05) shares her experience as an alumni volunteer.

welcome home t-shirt
'Welcome Home.' These were the simple, sweet words printed onto the back of my University of Waterloo Alumni volunteer t-shirt. These words were intended to welcome the new first year residents of V1, REV and CLV this Labour Day weekend, but when I read them, I also felt that these words applied to me. This used to be my home too, my first home outside of the one I grew up in, where my independent adult life began back in 2001. It meant a lot to me to be part of this momentous day in the lives of so many young, smart, wide-eyed first year students at the same spot that shaped the beginning of my post-secondary education. 

The day began with the volunteers being welcomed and introduced by the organizers. We then put on our t-shirts and stuck on our alumni stickers as we talked about what had and had not changed in residence since we had lived there. As the students came in, we were encouraged to pay special attention to parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members that might also be in need of some Warrior love. It wasn't only students that were facing a big life change, but also the families they were leaving behind.

Memories of my first day in residence flooded back to me. The words, 'WATER, WATER, WATER,' were belted out regularly and I distinctly remember once being on the other end, shouting, ‘LOO, LOO, LOO,' with a new found school spirit. I remember my Mom and me unpacking a full carload during my own move-in day. When we pulled up to unload, someone remarked, 'you know these are small bachelor apartments, right?’ The truth was I wanted every comfort I could think of to help with the transition to university life. Looking back, I probably didn't need the electric foot bath and TV I insisted on bringing, but they brought me a little piece of comfort at a time when I needed it.

After the students moved in, some of the parents came up to us and asked where they could purchase UWaterloo gear. They wanted to be able to wear their support for their sons and daughters for the world to see. Others had more emotional reactions, with tears, long hugs and some final words of encouragement. It was heart-warming to see how each family showed their love. 

When the day wrapped up, the other volunteers and I were still chatting about our memories in residence and our lives after university. We were heading back to our real lives as so many students were starting their next chapter. What I took from the day is that 'home' is still there. It's updated, and it has more food options then my go-to grilled cheese sandwich (still amazing, I'm sure), but it's all still there, waiting and welcoming the next generation of UWaterloo undergrads. I've never felt so proud to be an alumnus then I did this day.