It’s been a big week for Caroline Josephson. The retired teacher will turn 75 on Wednesday, but she has an appointment with the mayor of Winnipeg first.
Josephson is one of five people to receive the Mayor’s Volunteer Service Award as part of the 39th Annual Volunteer Awards. Mayor Brian Bowman will present Josephson and the other recipients with their awards today at City Hall.
The Charleswood resident is recognized for her work at Immigrant Center Manitoba, where she facilitates a six-week course that helps immigrants prepare for their citizenship test.
Josephson expected no honor. When she heard the news, she immediately phoned Ann Mohammed, Volunteer Services Manager, who had referred her.
“I only teach this course once a year for six weeks,” Josephson says. “I had no idea that (Mohammed) had come up with my name, so it was a big surprise.”
She can only teach the course once a year, but Josephson has taught it no less than seven times. Over the years, she has helped over 150 people prepare for their citizenship test.
The course explores the history, geography and government of Canada. It’s similar to the material students learn in grade 9 social studies, which Josephson taught for many years.
Josephson acknowledges the privilege she has as a white person raised in the River Heights neighborhood. As such, she enters the classroom with a warm and caring approach.
“I often start the course by saying that if I were to go to another country and learn its language and customs, I would be terrified,” she says. “I tell them that and then I tell them we’re going to do this (the class) together.”
Josephson provides students with her phone number and email address so they can contact her for assistance if they have any questions after class is over.
“It’s one of my favorite parts,” she says. “There were several students who did that. We go out for a coffee and review the equipment. I like to get to know them a little better and I like to help them understand what this country is about.
The dream of becoming a Canadian citizen has taken years to come true for the clients Josephson teaches, says Mohammed.
The citizenship test is one of the last steps in their journey towards realizing this dream. The information they need to study can be daunting and for most, English is not their first language, which makes test preparation difficult.
Josephson’s in-depth knowledge and ability to break down information into easy-to-understand pieces is phenomenal, says Mohammed.
“He’s just a very welcoming and generous person who is genuinely interested in helping our clients succeed,” says Mohammed. “I am always grateful and impressed by our volunteers like Caroline who step up and give without expecting anything in return. »
A grandmother of eight who also volunteers at the Minaki Conservancy and 1JustCity’s Oak Table Visitor Center, Josephson credits her community service to her good health, interest in meeting people, and desire to learn from others. new things.
“I love volunteering,” she says. “It’s a very interesting way to spend time.”
If you know of a special volunteer, please contact [email protected]