QCSV Committee Directors
Loky Lee was QCSV's first art instructor QCSV and has maintained the position for the last 3 years. Throughout this time, she is happy to see the art instructor team grow from one to six teachers. This will allow QCSV to run more art workshops for the offenders in the future and hopefully to teach at even more of the institutions within the Kingston area. Loky joined QCSV because she recognized the club would give her the opportunity to meet and connect with individuals of different backgrounds, as well as allow her to hone her teaching and presentation skills.
Loky asserts the art workshops were created to provide offenders with the opportunity to learn or improve on their existing visual art skills and build upon their emotional intelligence and social skills. However, the main objective of these classes has been for art therapy. QCSV’s goal is to provide an outlet for offenders to use art as a medium for their own self-expression.
“There is no moment more fulfilling than being thanked after a class and seeing the same inmate return for the next session because it really shows how valuable these classes are for them in this environment.”
Loky states teaching art workshops with QCSV has been an eye-opening experience which has helped her gain a better understanding of the prison environment, see correctional facilities first-hand, and contribute to the development of programs within these correctional facilities.
“My favourite part about this experience has been meeting and connecting with the offenders in the different institutions. It has been an opportunity which benefited both myself and the offenders in the institution.”
During the art classes, Loky was able to closely connect and understand these individuals through art. As they started to improve their art skills, engage in class, and become more comfortable talking with her, Loky was able to gain confidence in herself not only in public speaking, but also in her abilities to use art as a medium for connecting with others.
Sarah Ott, the current Marketing Director, is entering her third year of volunteering with QCSV. As marketing director, Sarah hopes her efforts in building QCSV’s social media sites, introducing club apparel, and publicizing club events will help to increase awareness not only towards the club, but also in highlighting QCSV’s core values.
“I hope my efforts in promoting this club will invite more volunteers to want to join this amazing organization in the future. An organization that many Queen’s students don’t even know exists!”
Sarah has always been fascinated with the psychology behind behaviour and the unique background each individual possesses.
“Through volunteering for this club, I have learned so much from the inmates and their genuine hope to do better and be given a second chance. It has pushed me to grow as a person and also become more understanding of people’s different backgrounds and situations.”
Sarah continues to volunteer because she believes the club will continue to create new and innovative ways to help inmates in a positive way and draw on their strengths to show that everyone deserves a second chance. Sarah explains meeting the inmates and hearing their stories and struggles has profoundly impacted her life in a positive way.
“I remember speaking to one inmate and he opened up to me about his family at home, he had two young kids. He also divulged the difficult time he had growing up in an abusive household. Nothing justifies the actions the inmates have committed, but their stories have led me to understand that they are people too; they have families, likes and dislikes, and dreams.”
Sarah says the amazing thing about QCSV is the hard work the volunteers do to try and give hope to an inmate’s dreams. Through various workshops and activities, QCSV works to provide inmates with the necessary tools to positively re-integrate back into society.
For Zoe Young’s fourth year with QCSV she is the current Director of Campus and Community Outreach. During her time with QCSV, Zoe has accompanied offenders from Henry Trail to the grocery store, taught budgeting skills, volunteered with art classes in Henry Trail and Joyceville, as well as participated in a holiday toy building initiative with offenders from Henry Trail.
Zoe states she has watched the club more than double in size and feels she has contributed to this by talking about her experience as a member of QCSV and what the club’s mission is to people throughout the Kingston and Queen’s Communities.
“University is the best place for students to get involved and work in a field they are interested in. I feel as if I have acted as an example to others who were like me, wanting to gain experience in this field but who were unsure as to how to achieve that.”
Zoe mentions volunteering with QCSV has been one of the most rewarding experiences she has ever been involved with.
“Not only am I able to support the correctional offenders, I have been able to broaden my interpersonal skills, specifically in terms of working, teaching, and listening, to others, as well as improve my art skills.”
One of Zoe’s greater accomplishments in working with QCSV is being able to watch the transition of some the correctional offenders as they re-integrate back into society. She adds she has had the privilege of working and speaking with some of the same offender’s one-on-one.
“I have watched confidence levels rise and have worked with many towards becoming more independent. I am proud to be able to share my experiences with others, and further spread the message that often rehabilitation is possible for many offenders.”
In the future, Zoe hopes to work with correctional offenders on a professional level, but is unsure in what capacity.
For her second year with QCSV, Varya Genkin is the Finance and Logistics Director, as well as the Program Coordinator for Joyceville. She believes volunteering gives her the opportunity to connect with the community she lives in and create meaningful relationships beyond the school environment.
“I think the feeling of contributing to something bigger than myself is what keeps me involved in volunteering with offenders.”
Varya believes every volunteer has something meaningful to contribute to the club just by showing up and making an effort to support QCSV’s important initiatives. Varya emphasizes the cumulative effort of previous volunteers are evident in the growth of the club over the last few years, stating
“When I started out, we only had a handful of members, and today we have 34!”
Through QCSV, Varya has established relationships with several Correctional Services Canada (CSC) staff members, one of whom she’s had the opportunity to shadow on the job. This incredible firsthand experience has allowed Varya to witness some of the decision-making that is carried out and the daily routines of prison life for offenders.
Stefanie Asuncio is the 2019-2020 Internal Relations Director, and this will be her second year with QCSV. Having worked with homeless people in her hometown, she was interested in taking it one step further. Stefanie continues to volunteer because it’s not only valuable to the offenders in terms of rehabilitation, but it allows her to give back to the community on a different level.
Stefanie states that just by being present in the rehabilitation process, volunteers are able to significantly contribute to the club and program.
“Face to face interaction is a valuable form of rehabilitation and being a part of that processes is invaluable to the inmates and keeps QCSV going.”
Stefanie’s first volunteer program at Millhaven-RTC has profoundly impacted her life in a positive way. She indicates that the second she stepped into the prison, the foreign environment was life changing.
“I was playing the guitar with one of the inmates and he asked me what song I was playing, not realizing the songs I normally play are songs they have never heard before. At that moment, it really hit me that I wasn’t surrounded by people who knew what was going on in the world politically or socially.”
Stefanie states that same day her group toured a bit of the prison after the program and they were told about gang culture in the prison community. The revelation made her recognize how different life is for some people and how real the problems they face are.
Stefanie will continue to volunteer with QCSV while she finishes her undergraduate degree with a major in biology and minor in life sciences.