This article, submitted by Susan Amos, is the first in a monthly series, “Cheers for Volunteers”, which highlights local volunteers and their organizations.
Volunteerism in Canada
Did you know that, in 2013, Canadians contributed 1.96 billion hours of volunteer work to their communities? This equates to about 1 million full-time jobs.
Statistics Canada’s report, “Volunteering in Canada, 2004 to 2013” (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2015003-eng.htm#a2) contains some other interesting highlights:
– Six in ten Canadians have volunteered at some point in their lives.
– Teens have the highest volunteer rate while older volunteers dedicate the greatest number of hours.
– Organizing events and fundraising are the top volunteer activities.
– “Word of mouth” is the most common way volunteers learn about volunteer opportunities.
– When asked about reasons for volunteering, 93 per cent say they volunteer because they want to contribute to the well-being of their communities.
Volunteerism in Tantramar
Volunteerism is alive and well in the Tantramar region. In addition to the countless hours seniors, youth and the general public spend volunteering informally, there are over 50 volunteer organizations working to help others and make our communities better places to live.
A local volunteer
Since her retirement in 2011, Heather Patterson has worked as a volunteer in a variety of organizations: Tantramar Seniors’ College, Tantramar Association of Grandmothers, Autumn House, Linus Project, Sackville Refugee Response Coalition and Sackville
Food Bank. In recognition of these efforts, Heather recently received the Rotary Club Paul Harris award for 'service above self’.
Here’s what Heather says about her volunteering experience. “I volunteer because I love it! I have an opportunity to give something back to the community and I get to know some truly wonderful people. It is marvellous to realize that, in any given group, there are hundreds of hours of accumulated experience and giving. So much happens in Sackville because of people stepping up.”
A new initiative
Part of Julia Feltham’s mandate as executive director of the Sackville Commons Co-op is to provide the community with a readily accessible access point to navigate volunteer opportunities.
Julia has collaborated with Matt Pryde, manager, recreation programmes and events,
Town of Sackville, Maggie Piper, community services co-ordinator, Mount Allison
Students’ Union and the Greater Moncton Volunteer Centre to establish a database for both organizations and volunteers to do just that.
“Ideally,” says Julia, “the data base will serve as a talent map, acting as a capacity builder for organizations and enriching our community by helping it to better use the skills of its volunteers. And,” Julia adds, “we are very grateful to the Town of Sackville for financing this database.”
Says Pryde, “The creation of a volunteer data base has long been a town priority.
It’s getting harder to find volunteers because our current pool is aging and getting burned out. The volunteer data base will give us an easier way to access some younger volunteers to keep volunteerism in our community rolling.”
Maggie sees volunteering as important for students. “It’s a way for us to use our knowledge and develop some practical skills. Also,” she adds, “it allows us to get to know the people and organizations in town. The volunteer database is a great way to bring the community and students together for the greater good.”
Check out our new volunteer database at volunteertantramar.ca. Whether you’re an organization looking for volunteers, someone already involved in volunteering or a new volunteer looking for an opportunity to help out, go into the database and get yourself registered.
Join us at Sackville’s annual volunteer fair Thursday, Nov. 23, from 4-6 p.m. at the Sackville Commons Co-op, 64 Main Street, in the old fire hall. You can learn more about our volunteer organizations, offer your services and register in the new database while you’re there.