Celebrating 15 years of changed lives!

Student Open Circles volunteers give 10,000 hours each year serving at risk children and youth, adults with disabilities and at shelters

Student Open Circles has been positively impacting McMaster students and the Hamilton community by develop-ing thoughtful, caring, and initiative-seeking leaders for 15 years! 

From one small group of weekly volunteers, the initiative has grown to over 300 students in more than 20 weekly groups, giving 10,000 hours of service each year. At  minimum wage, this equates to more than $110,000 of benefit to the Hamilton community. Wesley Centre Soup Kitchen, Welcome Inn Community Centre, YMCA immigrant youth homework clubs are just a few of Student Open Circle’s high-impact community volunteer placements. Student Open Circles works with the community to place McMaster students in these positions and help them develop responsible leadership practices and skills.

The impact of Student Open Circles is not only taking place locally. Its impact is spreading all over Southern Ontario and the globe (Waterloo, Tehkummah, and Afghanistan, just to name a few) with previous students heading back home to volunteer and create social initiatives in their own communities. 

Our recent 15 year anniversary crowdfunding campaign was a great success, raising $5,867 to continue the positive impact of Student Open Circles! Alumni posted messages of support from far and wide. One donor wrote: “I used to volunteer with Student Open Circles when I was a student at McMaster. Not only did they have a huge array of volunteer opportunities within the Hamilton community, they ensured that each group of volunteers was equipped to facilitate thought-provoking conversations every week about increasing one's awareness and connection to the world around us. While helping in shelters, breakfast programs, after-school support, etc. we were asked to link it with meaningful dialogue and conversation with other students and community leaders. This made me a better listener, critical thinker, and it increased my compassion for those around me. They showed me that doing small things with great love could really change the world. I really hope some of you will consider even a small donation to an organization that really was the starting point of why I became an educator.”

Another alumni donor said, “Greetings from across the world! Thank you for everything. Student Open Circles absolutely changed my life and helped me understand what community was.” Originally from Pakistan, Shahan Tariq studied biology and psychology for his undergrad at McMaster and has returned home. He’s currently working on his masters in clinical psychology. “Ideally, I’d like to end up working with the UN, World Health Organization, or Doctors Without Borders developing programs to incorporate emergency trauma therapy in the sense of psychological first aid on the scene after a tragedy happens, whether it's natural disaster or terrorism. I want to do something that lets me help people firstly. That's my basic underlying motivation or life purpose. Student Open Circles asked me the right questions that allowed me to figure out my path. Now it’s just a matter of spending my life to achieve it… easier said than done, but I am committed.”

Student Open Circles helps students to gain the most out of their experiences by providing workshops, weekly groups for reflection and meditation, and individual spiritual companioning. Students from all backgrounds meet in a safe and respectful environment to clarify their life goals and to develop habits and skills that will enable them to thrive.

Thank you for the significant difference you are making through your support!