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  • Writer's pictureMyrna Driedger

Volunteerism strong in Canada

The Community best strengthens itself from within” – Myrna Driedger, 1999

This is a philosophy that I have long held true. Shortly after being elected as the MLA for Charleswood, I met with various groups and businesses in Charleswood and I sensed that this was very evident in our neighbourhood. It was also one of the beliefs that spurred me on to sponsor the Charleswood Community Leaders Networking Luncheons as a place where many volunteer organizations, businesses and government can meet, network and form valuable partnerships.

Over the years I have been constantly amazed at the energy and dedication that various organizations have demonstrated. From the Charleswood Historical Society, the Friends of the Harte Trail, Girl Guide Leaders, Community Centres to the Urban Stable – they are all passionate about their cause and tireless in their efforts.

At our recent Community Leaders Networking Luncheon held in Charleswood we enjoyed hearing Dawn Bourbonnais of Volunteer Manitoba speak about “The Benefits of Community Involvement”.

Volunteer Manitoba supports groups and individuals in the voluntary sector to develop and enhance their capacity to anticipate, understand, celebrate, and meet community needs in Manitoba. Their vital contributions to the community include connecting people with volunteer opportunities, promoting volunteerism, and providing leadership and counsel in the voluntary sector.

They are very pleased to offer a free referral service, which matches individuals who have an interest in volunteering with agencies who are seeking volunteers.

Throughout the year, Volunteer Manitoba also delivers training for boards, staff and volunteers. Their workshops are a great way to build those essential skills needed for a career in the non-profit and volunteer sectors.

So, is volunteering decreasing these days as people’s lives seem to get busier and busier? According to Stats Canada the answer is no. The number of volunteers is growing faster than Canada's population.

Over 13.3 million people—accounting for 47% of Canadians aged 15 and over—did volunteer work in 2010. They devoted almost 2.07 billion hours to their volunteer activities: a volume of work that is equivalent to just under 1.1 million full-time jobs.

There are a couple of events coming up in 2017 in Charleswood and in Winnipeg that will require huge efforts by volunteers to make these events successful. From January 25 – 29th, the Scotties (provincial ladies curling championship) are going to be hosted by the Charleswood Curling Club at Eric Coy Arena. Then the Canada Summer Games for 2017 will be hosted in Winnipeg from July 28 – August 13th. This will be a special Summer Games as not only is it the 50th Anniversary of the Canada Summer Games, it coincides with Canada’s 150th birthday.

There are many benefits to both the community and to the individual from volunteering. You can work with others to accomplish change, improve the lives of others in your community, and help create a sustainable, healthy community. But the volunteer also benefits from the volunteering. It boosts their self esteem, provides opportunities to socialize, and leaves them with a sense of accomplishment from contributing to a worthy cause.


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