April 10 to April 16, 2016 was National Volunteer Week (NVW), a time to celebrate and thank Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers. This year marks the 13th consecutive year that Volunteer Canada and Investors Group have partnered to deliver the NVW campaign. I knew there would be a great deal of publicity last week so I thought I would wait and take this opportunity to ensure the thoughts of volunteerism remains fresh in everyone’s mind.
Volunteers are the roots of strong communities. Just like roots are essential for trees to bloom, volunteers are essential for communities to bloom. Thanks to volunteers, our communities grow strong and resilient. Even the tiniest volunteer effort leaves a profound and lasting trace in a community, much like tree rings that appear over time.
The annual celebration is organized by Volunteer Canada and was initially proclaimed in 1943 in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. When it was first organized by Women’s Voluntary Services, the purpose of the week was to celebrate the valuable role Canadian women were making to the war effort on the home front. In the late 1960’s the idea to recognize the efforts of volunteers was revived and expanded to include all community volunteers.
In Ontario, the overall number of volunteers is 7.8 million, comprising roughly 400,000 board volunteers and 7.4 million non‐board volunteers. Together, Ontario volunteers represent 40 percent of all volunteers in Canada, many likely volunteering for more than one organization at a time.
If you are not currently part of this wondrous workforce of passionate community contributors, here are some great ideas to get you started:
- Locally, Volunteer and Information Quinte (www.viq.ca) has a great listing of organizations with volunteer positions suitable for a vast array of interests.
- If you prefer, identify a cause that is of specific interest to you, and search online for websites and directories, check the local library for a community resource guide, or even look in the phone book for listings under “charities”.
- Attend a benefit, festival, or event that links to your passion. You will meet other people who share your interest and compassion and this will lead to even more opportunities.
- Use your own social networks to find out about volunteer activities in your area. Tell friends and family what you are looking for and mention your skills, resources, and specific interests.
Volunteerism is not all about “giving”; it is also about “getting”. The health and social benefits have been clearly studied and documented over the years. The sense of community belonging lends itself to a sense of well being and good health. There is a sense of calmness that comes from being productive, having purpose, and helping others, which in turn leads to increased self-esteem. As you age, volunteering can give new meaning to your life, reduce anxiety and depression, and increase life satisfaction.
Community Care for South Hastings would like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful people that volunteer their time to meet the needs of our clients. From the Board members, to the transportation drivers, to the Meals on Wheels delivery people, the friendly visitors, the telephone reassurance people, the fund-raisers, the activity group assistants, the office helpers, and everyone else who makes our services possible – THANK YOU! You are the best.