The Trent University Walkhome program is celebrating its 20th birthday. The Walkhome team is organizing a birthday party on April 3 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the bridge to celebrate the vital contributions of the program.

The program is based on the work of volunteers. The Walkhome team proudly asserts that over the five years they have had 549 outstanding volunteers. They agree that “the program is truly unique; we are one of the only universities that runs two programs, one in the downtown core and one on campus. The Trent Walkhome program also assists security in the lock-up of campus each night, giving volunteers the opportunity to learn to navigate the campus in a more detailed manner.”

They also encourage everyone to use the university resources at their disposal. The Walkhome program is one of such resources which everyone has access to.

The team communicates that “using the Walkhome program has never been easier. When members of the Trent community need a walk at night, call the Trent Walkhome line at 705-748-1748. All calls will be answered by a dispatcher who will ask your first name, where you are, and your destination. The dispatcher will then contact a team of volunteers (two females or one male and a female) who will meet you and walk you to your destination. Each of our volunteers have gone through a screening process and training program to get you to your destination safely. Walkhome has also recently launched a texting service. Students do not have to physically talk on the phone anymore to request a walk. Simply text 705-931-7282 requesting a walk and notify us of your location.”

The program is not only beneficial for the people that use their services, but also for the volunteer members who have the opportunity to gain valuable experience.

For example, Airin Aguilera, a former Walkhome volunteer, agrees that her experience was great. “I got the opportunity to work both at the Symons and Trail campuses getting to know them pretty well and I also had the opportunity to meet new people on shifts.”

She added, “I was called only once during my volunteering at Walkhome. But participating in this program gave me experience in running security checks, working as a team and it allowed me to truly know my university’s campus.”

According to their website, they walk anywhere within a 25 minute walk of Symons Main Campus, or the downtown Trail Campus and Champlain College Annex. This includes the main area where students live downtown, the local pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants. It also includes the new townhouses on Water Street.

The number of volunteers has been decreasing in the last few years, but expect a spike this year. According to the data provided by the Walkhome team, the numbers of volunteers in 2007-08 was 219; in 2008-09 it was 143; in 2009-10 it was 144; in 2010-11 it was 107; in 2011-12 it was 70. This year there are 75 volunteers. The experience from which volunteers profit is without doubt exceptional – it is a great volunteering experience for those looking to contribute in some way.

For more information about the Walkhome program or to get involved, please send an email to [email protected] Follow the program on Twitter @trentwalkhome, or on Facebook.