For Rayel Quiring, giving back is a way of life.
Growing up, she and younger brother Cody were always involved in helping out, whether it was making something to eat for the homeless of the Downtown Eastside, or filling shoeboxes at Christmas time to help those in need.
“It really stems from my parents and my grandparents, they really instilled those values in us,” said Quiring.
“So it is something I am really passionate about. You can give your time and your money, and people are so happy and grateful.
“It is just a good thing to do.”
Following an outstanding high school career with Walnut Grove Secondary, where she graduated in 2007 and was a high school all-star, Quiring joined the UBC women’s volleyball team.
Quiring is a very decorated player on the volleyball court — earlier this month, she capped off her five-year university career by helping the UBC Thunderbirds win their fifth consecutive CIS women’s national championship banner and she also won a national title at the club level in 2007 with the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club — but she has also earned accolades for her work off the court.
Quiring, who will graduate this spring with a degree in commerce, was the Canada West nominee for the CIS Therese Quigley Award.
The award, which recognizes excellence in volleyball, academics and community involvement, was won by Natalie Gray of Queen’s University.
“To be nominated made me feel special and so grateful to be recognized for what I have been doing,” Quiring said.
Some of her off-court work includes being a volunteer leader for the Canadian Cancer Society Committee, being accepted into the prestigious Leaders of Tomorrow mentorship program of the Vancouver Board of Trade and spending last summer with Habitat for Humanity, building home in El Salvador during a two-week mission.
“Just seeing how my parents gave back to the community really instilled something in me, that (giving back) was something I was supposed to do and loved to do,” she said.
Her work with Habitat for Humanity was so rewarding, Quiring is heading back to El Salvador in May, this time as a team leader.
“I loved it, it was incredible,” she said.
“I am just really excited to lead a new group of athletes, to have such a life-changing experience like the one I had.”
Her work with the Canadian Cancer Society also holds a special place in Quiring’s heart as her uncle, Richard Quiring, passed away from cancer in 2009.
“To be able to work with them in some sort of capacity … was really special to me,” she explained.
She is working to fundraise $10,000 for the June Relay for Life event and she also works with the Society as a volunteer. Quiring is developing and implementing a workplace wellness program aimed at promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles in the workplace.
UBC coach Doug Reimer calls Quiring the “heart of the team.”
“She is the player that is always looking to lead and encourage her teammates to be their best,” he said.
“She makes things happen on the court and this has carried out to her many volunteer endeavors and projects outside of volleyball.
“When you see what she has done off the court, it is not a surprise that she is able to contribute in all environments.”
As for her future, the 23-year-old Quiring plans on traveling in South America after she is done building homes in May, before returning to the Lower Mainland for the summer, where she will continue coaching volleyball.
And in August, she plans to head to Europe to finalize a pro contract to keep playing the sport.
“I am not quite ready to grow up,” she said with a laugh.