Hilda Askar
MCC photo/Alex Strange

Hilda Askar volunteered at Sam's Place for five months in 2016. She currently works as a barista at a Starbucks in Winnipeg.

When Hilda Askar isn’t in school, she’s steaming milk, pouring espresso and working a cash register at a Starbucks in Winnipeg.

Askar, 17 and a grade 12 student, credits her current job to a five-month-long volunteer experience at Sam’s Place in 2016. Sam’s Place is a café and bookstore run by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba which provides training for youth and young adults looking to enter the workforce.

“It was the most relevant experience that I had on my resumé when I started applying,” Askar explains. “I had volunteered at the Fringe Festival and at my school, but Sam’s Place really made my resumé.”

Hilda Askar makes a latte at Sam's Place.MCC photo/Alex Strange

Prior to volunteering at Sam’s Place in the summer of 2016, Askar had never worked a cash register, made coffee and had limited customer service experience. 

“It was my first time actually handling cash and food. Before that I never had experience doing that or working with customers. It was very similar to an actual workplace so I’m thankful for my work experience there,” she says.

Askar believes her experience at Sam’s Place was what got her the job at the coffee chain known for its excellent customer service.

“Everything I did at Sam’s Place was what I talked about in my interview (at Starbucks). I think if I didn’t volunteer there and didn’t get the experience necessary to get my foot in that door, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says.

Alex Strange, MCCM's volunteer and youth engagement coordinator, serves food to guests at Sam's Place.MCC photo/Alison Ralph

According to Alex Strange, the volunteer and youth engagement coordinator for MCC Manitoba, in the last year alone, Sam’s Place staff have trained more than 150 youth ages 14-24. Sometimes these youth face barriers to employment, but in cases like Askar’s, Sam’s Place can break down those barriers.

“The youth are provided with training in every area of the café, which makes them better equipped to handle tasks in future employment,” he explains. “We’re happy to see volunteers like Hilda succeed!”

Askar says she regularly recommends Sam’s Place as a place for her peers to gain job experience.

I think if I didn't volunteer there... I wouldn't be where I am today.  — Hilda Askar

“Whenever someone comes to me directly and talks about their resumé, I mention it right away,” she says.

On top of offering training in a café setting, Askar experienced Sam’s Place as a warm, inviting environment for volunteers.

“It was such a welcoming, kind community. It kind of felt like a family. It was sad for me to leave once I got my Starbucks job,” Askar says. 

To learn more about volunteering at Sam’s Place, or for more information about the café and bookstore, visit http://sams.place

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