Let’s introduce Harnoor Gill! He is the founder of the Peace Welcome Club, he lives in Georgetown, Ontario with his family, and he is a high school student. He has had his writing published in Indo-Canadian Voice, Asian Journal, Times of India, The Independent & Free Press, and in Amazing Kids! Magazine. Harnoor volunteers with many local organizations including the Willow Park Ecology Centre, the Town of Halton Hills, and the Halton Children’s Aid Society, and is dedicated to raising awareness about youth volunteering among youth worldwide.
Who came up with the idea to form the PWC, and how? What is the story behind what you are today?
I was 14 years old when I first started the Peace Welcome Club (PWC). I was inspired to start the PWC because I was an immigrant, I didn’t feel there were many opportunities for a kid like me to be a part of something. So, I decided to become the voice of youth and raise awareness among newcomer youth in Canada about volunteering opportunities.
However, the starting point of my journey was Hong Kong. I was very shy, though I loved music since I was very young. It was International Day at my Play School. I was supposed to wear traditional dress to represent my culture and do an artisitic performance related to Punjabi heritage. I was hesitant and very self-conscious due to the fact that I would have to go in different attire in front of my classmates which excluded my school uniform, which I really loved at that time and on top of that I had to dance which was another miracle that was going to happen back in 2001 in Hong Kong. With the courage, moral support, and the confidence instilled in my personality by my parents I managed to go in Pajama Kurta along with my Punjabi dance. The purpose behind this event was charity, which I realized later after a couple of years. With that day, my life changed and I felt so proud and fulfilled within my heart that I could change the world just by putting a small step forward by lending my talent, which helped in many causes in many ways.
The PWC brand, how would it be defined? What are the main characteristics of the PWC? What is it?
As the founder of this youth group I designated the name, ’Peace Welcome Club’ because this reflects on how the work it does is peaceful and giving towards society. The team consists of four adult and twelve youth members to help us spread the message behind this youth group. Plus we have more than 30 volunteers throughout the year, mostly from Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar, and India. These individuals in the youth group take the lead role in their communities to help make a difference. Our FaceBook page is the main resource where we publish and regularly update how individuals can make a difference in today’s world.
For what do you fight? How much you succeed in it? Can you give examples?
Poverty, social justice, children and youth – we have reached out to youth worldwide successfully though our presentations, speaking engagements, write ups by joining and lending our hands in their fundraising and projects including World Vision Canada, Laidlaw Foundation, and Crime Stoppers of Halton.
What are the causes you are promoting?
“Volunteers need support and recognition from organizations to add value to the quality of life in the community”. Please join us to assist in our Book Drive (we are collecting new/old books for JK to Gr.12 for children and youth in need. Also we are continuing our renowned Jean Green Drive (we are accumulating new or gently used jeans to help underprivileged children locally/internationally). Furthermore, we are spreading environmental awareness towards our endangered Marine friends/beloved wild life by participating in the Canadian Shoreline Clean Up projects.
What do PWC volunteers do?
They help in creating the projects and spreading the word about our projects: community clean-ups, collecting books/jeans/food items, packing, and delivering these items to the children in need.
What was your best event/happening ? How many volunteers helped? What were their tasks?
Our best event is the ‘ChangeTheWorld’ Ontario Youth Volunteer challenge to earn volunteer hours for high school diplomas in Ontario. We have led this project successfully and engaged youth province-wide for the past five years. Every year more than 20 volunteers help out us during this campaign with community clean-ups and our jean/book/food drives.
Who can become a PWC Youth Ambassador, and how do you become one?
All young people from 8-18 who want to take a leadership role and are willing to create and lead projects in their communities
What does the PWC offer to Youth Ambassadors? What can they gain from it?
The PWC offers young people an open online space to help and build confidence, creativity, and leadership. To start off, a local youth ambassador from Mississauga, Ontario is a dedicated volunteer, believing that the act of giving is extremely powerful and life changing. Hearing about the PWC in her newspaper, Mehak Bhansali felt it was an awesome opportunity to be a part of a team and share her wonderful ideas. As a Youth Ambassador, she has participated in many projects, continually influencing and guiding members of her community, in creating change. One of our international Youth Ambassadors from Qatar is a keen individual who is a remarkable youth leader in his community. As an ambitious environmentalist, Kanishq Verma is currently working on initiating a discussion to increase awareness of the effects of climate change on weather.
How do you help/support your Youth Ambassadors?
I write articles on a regular basis, which are published in newspapers or on websites. With the power of sharing my knowledge and experience with volunteering, this helps me to reach out to youth and inspire them to pursue their goals by being outgoing in their very own communities. Additionally, I have the power of technology at my hand, and I create a positive impact on the Internet by sharing my thoughts and community opportunities on the PWC FaceBook Page. This is how I motivate others to join me in this journey of empowering youth through community involvement.
When did you have the hardest time with the PWC and why?
Initially, when I first started the PWC, it was hard to convince youth of my age to volunteer. In fact, I was also rejected as a volunteer by various organizations because of my age. So, I took this as a challenge and spread the word that age is never a barrier to volunteering, and found ways to volunteer with my parents through family volunteering in the community. Barriers come in every day-to-day life, as long as we’re able to overcome those barriers, then we can change the world. From 2001 to date I’ve worked for many organizations and events and feel proud to be a part of the community I am blessed with. As young people, we can make this world a better place for the future! I learnt that you can contribute in many ways to society. And your age is not a bar at all. One should have a determination to contribute to the community, and there are millions of ways to do it. We just need to look at them and try to move ourselves along the paths that open.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to serve and inspire the global community. Through my endeavours with my projects, I believe this goal will be achieved sooner than I could have ever imagined.
Who inspired you on your journey?
A great man and an even greater leader, Mahatma Gandhi. He is an inspiration to many and is an amazing inspiration for me to pursue my greatest passion of inclusiveness through community involvement. His quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a mantra I follow to continue my involvement in empowering youth in the pursuit of greater goals.