HR students give local agencies a volunteer boost

Important community agencies in Niagara are able to enhance the training they provide to volunteers thanks to the work of Niagara College human resources students.

As part of a course-based research project coordinated by Niagara College’s Research and Innovation division students in the Human Resources Management (Graduate Certificate) program have developed volunteer training manuals and programs for the United Way of South Niagara and the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network. The project involved a diagnostic assessment of existing training needs and the development of customized training manuals and programs for both agencies.
“This is a great example of partners coming together to create a hands-on learning opportunity that also has important community benefits” said Holly Catalfamo Ed.D. professor/coordinator in the Human Resources Management program. “It assists key agencies right here in Niagara while providing our students with real-world experience that gives them a leg-up as they prepare to enter the workplace.”
“This project helped me get a good handle on the training and development process” said student Bella Metler. “The valuable skills I gained will be very important as I pursue my career in human resources.”
“This was an opportunity to showcase my abilities in a meaningful manner” added student Kevin Proulx.  “When I tell prospective employers that I have created a training program I can not only show the work I did on an individual training module but also a completed project.”
Volunteers are often the lifeblood of community agencies and both the United Way of South Niagara and the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network see the potential for significant benefits in the students’ work. Not-for-profit organizations rarely have a significant budget for training materials and the well-researched flexible materials provided by the students may be just what the agencies need to make their volunteers more connected with a better understanding of the organizations’ processes and services.
“The quality of the students’ work was outstanding; they were well-researched thorough and they delivered quality materials” said Deanna Pope campaign associate with the United Way of South Niagara. “Volunteers are an integral part of our organization and the materials provided by Niagara College’s Human Resources Management students will enhance our capacity to deliver an excellent volunteer experience.”
“I know this will be a great resource for any agency that wishes to utilize it and certainly the response in the network validates this” said Elisabeth Zimmerman chair of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network – a group of social agencies educators business government and faith communities committed to ensuring all Niagara residents live above the poverty line. “I anticipate that the end result will be that we have more engaged and better-trained volunteers which will improve both the quality of service they are able to provide as well as their experience.”
Niagara College’s Human Resources Management (Graduate Certificate) program is an intensive one-year program open to students who have previously graduated from diploma or degree programs. The program focusses on current human resources issues challenges and strategies and prepares graduates for a broad range of careers in the field. Students benefit from valuable hands-on experiences and networking opportunities with local and national industry professionals.
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit
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