When Hamza and Irbaaz Syed aren’t making gear to help protect healthcare workers at their local hospitals in Alliston Ontario, you will likely find them extending their helping hands to seniors in need. The young volunteers, both Forensic Science students at Laurentian, have always had a burning desire to give back to the community.
“Forensic Science is an applied science, in this case they are using their knowledge and applying it during a time of need,” says Professor Brian Donohue, director of the Research and Professional Development Institute at Laurentian University. “They are both exceptional young men. It is no surprise their public spiritedness has led to this commitment.”
In a successful attempt to help keep frontline healthcare workers safe, the Syed brothers designed and created the PPE Hood (personal protective equipment) that protects the head and neck areas. This is just one of several efforts they have initiated to help the community cope with the effects of the pandemic on everyday life, efforts which protect the most vulnerable.
“They developed more than 100 [PPE] units which are in use at Stevenson Memorial Hospital here in Alliston,” says George Scott, President-Elect of the local Rotary Club. “Hamza and Irbaaz are impressive young men and we're proud of their association with Rotary.”
The Syed brothers have demonstrated that in times of need, selfless service extends beyond family and friends. Besides creating over 200 PPE hoods with help from local volunteers, they have committed themselves to providing support for seniors who are not able to leave their house. They have taken it upon themselves to deliver groceries and/or medication, mow lawns, and run a number of other errands. In addition, they are raising funds for The Citizens Foundation Canada to support literacy. Their work is gaining them recognition.
Community involvement and volunteerism is not a new concept for the young volunteers, therefore, it is no surprise that the two have been inducted into the South Simcoe Hall of Fame in 2019. This was “a remarkable achievement for two people so young,” says Mr. Scott.
“Most volunteers do not receive monetary incentives but surely they do receive a sense of humanity, humility, humbleness and a spirit for giving back to the community,” says Hamza.
Both brothers believe youth are capable of doing so much more when they put their minds together to achieve something good for the community. For that reason, between the two, they have been involved in over 60 community volunteer initiatives. They hope to inspire youth in their community to volunteer as well, especially now.
“Youth represent the future of any community,” says Irbaaz. “It’s vital for the youth’s voices to be heard and included in important community decisions.”