Why do you volunteer?
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
This quote is on a flip chart in the entrance to my kid’s school, it’s not only cooperation month with the Toronto District School Board, but it’s also National Volunteer Week. This week has me reflecting on what volunteering means to me and to those around me.
Monday, all the parents at my kid’s school, got a desperate plea via email for help with pizza day on Wednesday. I checked my calendar and finally had that exact 2-hour time slot free, so I responded that I could help. I showed up for the first time and was amazed at the sheer number of parents who pull off this special day every month for our school. There were at least 15 of us! And everyone was busy!
I asked the other parents why the volunteer, not just at the school, but in general. I’m always impressed with the sheer number of hours some people devote to volunteering from coaching their kids teams to leading a school activity such as pizza day.
Here are some of the amazing reasons why people volunteer:
To say thank you.
Because the lead volunteer asked!
Because people need help.
I love my kids and like seeing them at school.
Volunteering makes me feel good about myself.
To give back to the community.
To get out of the house.
To lead by example.
You shouldn’t always get paid for what you do.
To help out before I start full time work in a couple of weeks.
Why not help if you can?
I love this! Such diverse reasons why others are inspired to give back.
Volunteering plays a huge role in my life.
I am currently on the board of a food bank in downtown Toronto which is 99% volunteer run. We rely on volunteers to come 5 days a week to help their fellow citizens access food and meals. These volunteers inspire me. They are often clients themselves, on some form of government assistance, yet devote their time to helping others. One gentleman who has volunteered there for 4 years told me this:
“I come here for the community and the conversation. It’s a place to belong. Since I am on government assistance, FYFB gives me purpose and a rhythm to my week.”
How do you give back to your community?
It doesn’t always have to be a huge time commitment to volunteer. Many charities are not set up to host volunteers. There are other ways to support charities, nonprofits and schools in your community. Donating food next time you are at the grocery store (look for the Daily Bread yellow bins near the front door) is a quick way to give back. Or shoveling someone else’s sidewalk. Doing something at your office such as joining a committee or organizing a fundraiser with your co-workers.
Giving financially is also very much needed in the charity and non-profit sector, and sometimes even more appreciated than gifts of time. I often hear people feeling guilty for not being able to do more volunteer hours. I try to reassure them that giving financially is sometimes even more important that giving your time. We all have different roles to play in society. And that is what makes Canada a great place to live!