During its 50th year, the Criminal Justice - Policing (CJ) students in Lethbridge College’s LEO Club wanted to give back even more than usual to their community. They did just that, taking part in more than 40 volunteer events, providing more than 1,000 hours of volunteer time and raising nearly $8,000 to support a dozen different community and global organizations.
“We wanted to do this for two reasons,” says Scott Sigfusson, past president of the club. “We wanted to give our club members, who are all CJ students, a wide variety of different events and organizations that they could participate with, and we wanted to increase our positive impact within the community through volunteering.”
The LEO Club at Lethbridge College was founded in 1967 by Ken Riley as part of the Lions Clubs International. The word "LEO" stands for Leadership, Experience, Opportunity and links precisely to the goals and priorities of many students in the Criminal Justice - Policing program.
“The LEO Club at Lethbridge College is significant to both the students and the communities they come from and will be living in,” says Criminal Justice instructor Dave Maze. “Volunteering is a critical part of any community as most communities could not afford to provide the services they do without volunteers. Participating with LEOs builds responsible citizenship in our students and facilitates the development of positive experiences in community mindedness.”
The local organizations that received support from the LEOS this past academic year include the Lethbridge College Students’ Association Food Bank, YWCA Lethbridge and District, Lethbridge Boys and Girls Club, Lethbridge Ability Resource Centre, Lethbridge Schizophrenia Society, Lethbridge Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Lethbridge Family Services and Lethbridge Police Victim Services. In addition, the group has supported Wounded Warriors Canada and collected money to make tuition payments for a student in Sierra Leone.
“As post-secondary students who understand the importance of access to education, the club again this year made a donation to support a university student in Sierra Leone for tuition and books,” added Maze.
This past Sunday, the LEOs volunteered at the charity hockey game between the Lethbridge Police Service and the Lethbridge Fire Services. This event at the Enmax Centre featured two NHL players joining the teams and raised money to support the Humboldt Broncos.
“For me, it was important to be a part of the college and our LEO club to actually make a difference within the community and the ability to learn life lessons while doing it,” says Sigfusson. “The opportunity to be a part of clubs like ours and the organizations we help support with our volunteering make our communities a better place.”
There are LEO Clubs in 140 countries around the world, with more than 160,000 members. The mission of all of the clubs is to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for development and contribution, individually and collectively, as responsible members of a local, national, and international community.
Barb Mantello, chair of Justice Studies at the college, says the LEO Club is a natural extension of the rich history that justice programming has within the college. “It reinforces the competencies that hiring agencies ask of our students, including team work, adaptability, ethical accountability and responsibility, problem solving, and interactive communication,” she says. “The students who work with the LEO Club develop leadership skills and a true appreciation of what will be expected of them as public servants in communities across western Canada.”
The Lethbridge College LEO Club is open to all CJ students who are looking for volunteer opportunities and the experience in helping those in need in the community. The LEO Club executive is student-run and managed with a Criminal Justice faculty member providing liaison support to the club.