Canada was built with the vision and hard work of countless volunteers. Communities were, and still are, sustained by its volunteers. “The True North Strong and Free” is celebrating 150 years of volunteerism April 23rd – 29th!
Many Canadians are involved in their communities, as well as issues that are important to them. It is also wonderful that volunteer hours are now mandatory for students to graduate from secondary schools. This is a great opportunity for young people to be engaged in volunteering, perhaps for the first time. Also, Stats Canada notes, “… that people who were involved in community activities in their childhood or adolescence have a greater tendency to become adults who are involved in more kinds of civic activities like formal and informal volunteering, political organizations, service clubs, community associations, and so on.”
Often formal volunteers, those that are involved with organizations such as schools, service clubs, or non-profits, are the people that are noticed and thanked. There are also informal volunteers, those that see something that can help out and then go ahead and do it. This includes activities such as putting out a neighbour’s garbage; shovelling steps; visiting someone at home, or in the hospital; picking up groceries for someone else when they do their own etc. A challenge for everyone is to thank the volunteers that you come across, both formal and informal, for making a difference!
Why do people volunteer? When asked this question, Francine Gould, volunteer with Kemptville & District Home Support (KSHSI), responded, “I love it! The people I’m calling are so cheerful, and so are the people I’m working with.” Other responses from volunteers included, “To meet new people.”, and overwhelmingly “To make a difference in my community.”
Volunteering is also good for a person’s health, studies have shown that volunteering gives a sense of purpose and increases people’s social network, which can help reduce stress and associated illnesses. As KDHSI volunteer Jim Heppell notes, ‘I think that anybody that is retired should volunteer. It is a healthy pursuit both mentally and physically. And, it is also rewarding to know that you can make a contribution!”
There are also reasons that people don’t volunteer, with lack of time topping the list. Another reason given is that they have not been asked, accounting for 45% of those not volunteering! Many people volunteer with people they know, so, this is a challenge to invite your friends to check out volunteering opportunities with you.
Consider this an open invitation to people of all ages, to consider volunteering in your community. There is such a variety of volunteer opportunities including helping at libraries, animal shelters, youth groups, schools, hospitals, Long Term Care facilities, and community agencies.
Kemptville & District Home Support welcomes you to come and talk to the staff and volunteers about helping out. There is a need for volunteers to drive people to appointments, to visit or call people on a regular basis, to deliver Meals on Wheels, to help out in the office by answering phones or other activities, or to visit with people in their homes. And, if getting out is not possible, there is also calling that can be done from your own home.
I know many of us share this sentiment, “No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank you.” ~Author Unknown
Susan Smith, Executive Director
Kemptville & District Home Support