Did you know that Canada is a leader in the non-profit and voluntary sector? Canada is second only to the Netherlands when it comes to this sector. Of the plentiful non-profits in Canada, 54% of those are run entirely by volunteers. Who exactly are these volunteers and what do they do?
In this fast-paced world, volunteers are stepping up more than ever, and are taking advantage of advances in technology to contribute their time and talents in more ways than ever. The person checking their email on the train beside you in the morning could very well be a volunteer taking advantage of those precious few minutes to work on their volunteer projects.
In the ever changing volunteer landscape, volunteers are able to donate not just their time, but their expertise as well. More than ever skills-based volunteers are contributing their cerebral dexterity to any task that organizations ask of them. These volunteers are putting to use skills that, in many cases, cost them thousands or dollars or hours to learn, and could charge just as much for.
Engineers, scientists, doctors, artists, communications specialists, consultants – everyday these volunteers are mending our city’s forgotten youth, helping the homeless, the mentally ill, and helping to build the capacity of the organizations lucky enough to engage them.
Volunteers don dust masks and old clothes to pump out water and dig houses out of mud. Albertan volunteers didn’t need to be asked to volunteer, they didn’t need to be told where to go. They took to the streets and found people that needed to be helped; they handed out coffee, donuts and sandwiches; we donated clothes, supplies and money by the ton. During the last weeks of June, the generosity of spirit and volunteerism shown by Calgarians made us newsmakers of the year.
Volunteers are those who provide manpower to get the small, yet important tasks done, such as: stuffing envelopes for mail-outs, cleaning out cages at pet shelters and doing data entry. You name a job, and volunteers have filled that role throughout Calgary.
Volunteers are our youths. The majority of people age 15-24 volunteer, at an awesome rate of 58%. On top of going to school and doing their homework, these people are giving up time with their friends or learning a new sport to make their community healthier and stronger.
Volunteers are those behind the scenes, like dedicated board members. Board members keep non-profits in the city running. These are people with a high level of expertise in the sector and the passion to match. Board members are a non-profit’s unpaid, unsung heroes.
We celebrate volunteers because without them, many programs, or non-profit organizations would simply not be able to exist. We celebrate National Volunteer Week because it is a great chance to show our country’s volunteers that we need them and that their contributions are valued. We celebrate National Volunteer Week to say ‘thank you’ to all those volunteers trying to make Calgary (and the world) a better place.