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Local seniors launched into cyber space

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 10:38 -- Sheila Kozmin
karen minty standing beside a framed painting

Karen Minty is not an astronaut, but she is a space traveler all the same. Minty launches herself daily into untested creative spaces, all the while helping others to achieve their personal and business goals. She loves to hear people say to her, “I never thought about it like that before!”

Minty is the founder of fortyhours, a unique business venture, offering individuals, groups and companies opportunities to maximize their valuable work and volunteer time in creative, meaningful ways. With credentials in Adult Education, she offers services and workshops to help you masterfully craft your message to be effective and engaging so that people will listen and learn.

Her eclectic offerings also include speech writing, grant applications, business proposals, web-site content and business bios. All forms of writing and editing are within her scope.

Minty is particularly passionate about the value of volunteer work. She felt inspired by the 2014 documentary, “Cyber Seniors,” and decided to deliver a similar program in Sarnia. With a grant from the Awesome Foundation in 2016, she initiated the matching of high school students with seniors curious to learn about computers. Participants met twice weekly at Trinity Anglican Church to learn how to use the internet, email, facebook, YouTube and Skype. They were delighted to make online contact with family and friends for the first time. Sharing photographs is particularly joyful for them.

The high school students earned mandatory volunteer hours in a fun, meaningful way. “They felt empowered sharing knowledge instead of being the knowledge gatherers,” said Minty. “The experience taught them communication skills, reliability skills, leadership, patience, confidence and empathy. Altogether, the level of loyalty of my volunteers was really quite astounding.”

The Cyber Seniors initiative will run again in 2017-18. Additionally, they will team with the Organization for Literacy (OLL) and Great Lakes Secondary School, with assistance from a Catherine Wilson Grant, to provide a second series of sessions in the South end of Sarnia on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00-4:30 at OLL. The North-end program will run Tuesdays and Thursdays at Trinity Anglican Church. Minty has produced a step-by-step workbook designed for guided home practice.

Minty discovered through conversations with students that many struggle to find meaningful ways to fulfill their 40-hour volunteer obligation. “They want to see the impact of their action,” she said. “They don’t want to be ‘voluntold’ what to do.” Having long-term volunteer work listed on a résumé helps students land paying jobs and scholarships, too. “It helps them stand out,” she said.

Karen Minty is proud to present Sarnia’s first Youth Volunteer Expo on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the Lambton Mall. This event promises to bring non-profits in need of student volunteers face-to-face with available students. “This one-stop shopping approach will help all the organizations to promote and recruit students,” she said. She is also in the process of setting up the website, www.thevolunteerclub.com, so that organizations can post volunteer positions.

Catch Karen Minty weekly on Cogeco’s “Community Conversations” in which she interviews interesting personalities. “I ask, ‘how did you get there?’ I like people’s back story,” she said. Minty has her own interesting back story. She left the routine, corporate world of banking and accounting to pursue her creative dreams with a mid-life return to formal education at Brock University and UBC. Karen is rocketing toward a new future self and wants to help others launch their goals, too.

Contact Karen Minty at karen@fortyhours.com  519-312-1710. www.fortyhours.com

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