In my past articles, I have written about community resilience and community building, especially given the impacts of COVID-19. These are important themes and essential to understanding the value of volunteerism. This month, I want to share some perspectives on volunteerism and how supporting others can bring greater joy to our community and our own lives.
Volunteerism has a direct impact on enhancing the joy of those who volunteer. Simply dedicating a portion of our time to others offers a sense of personal empowerment and self-worth that is immeasurable. Volunteerism can raise academic performance and provide valuable job experience and professional growth for those considering future career paths. It also contributes to our sense of purpose and belonging by creating social connections with clients, other volunteers and teams.
It’s a point I often make to local politicians, that financially supporting non-profits who engage volunteers, such as Community Care Durham or the Alzheimer Society of Durham Region or Oshawa Senior Community Centres, not only helps provide an essential service, but also fosters civic engagement, leading to a healthy democratic society. Volunteerism promotes citizenship and breaks down barriers to social inclusion and equity. A just society works together toward inclusive and shared goals.
In a recent survey, 93 per cent of CCD’s volunteers felt they contributed to our mission of Supporting People — Strengthening Community, and we couldn’t deliver on our mission without them. At CCD, we have nearly 1,500 registered volunteers, with more than 500 currently active during COVID-19. The estimated value of their unpaid support is $2.7 million annually! And while some practical elements of volunteering changed during COVID-19, we recruited 315 volunteers since March 2020. I don’t know about you, but this inspires me and my faith in the power of community.
Perhaps you are enticed to pay it forward in your community. Maybe you want to explore new opportunities. You might have a few hours a week to make a friendly phone call, greet clients or deliver a meal. Or, you may have interests other than serving clients directly. The new face of volunteerism now also includes sharing your skills in areas such as finance, technology, fundraising, quality and governance. If you have time, interest or skills that you wish to share, I invite you to contact us by visiting our website at www.communitycaredurham.on.ca/volunteer/ or that of our partner agencies.
During Volunteer Appreciation Week, which runs from April 18 to 24, please take the time to acknowledge community volunteers and their vital contributions across Canada. There is a place for all of us to be community builders of a just and caring society.
The Metroland Media Group first published this column on April 10, 2021.