Red Deerians land high score in national volunteering challenge

Volunteer Ottawa launched a nation-wide campaign in partnership with Volunteer Canada

By Emily Rogers

Red Deer Express

Red Deerians have proven themselves to be a helpful and volunteering lot.

Red Deer came in number four in the nation in the month of May for the 150 Volunteer Challenge; there were eight volunteers in total, with one corporation, who completed 502.5 hours of volunteerism in total, officials with Volunteer Central said.

Volunteer Ottawa launched a nation-wide campaign in partnership with Volunteer Canada, which encouraged Canadians to volunteer 150 hours of their time to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

Red Deer has been consistent throughout the 150 Volunteer Challenge, said Pam Snowdon, executive director of Volunteer Central.

It proves the community is behind volunteerism, and is excited to make positive changes in Red Deer, she said, noting that the 150 Volunteer Challenge marks a great opportunity to get out in the community and contribute.

“Everyone has the capacity to make changes in the community, it’s a ripple effect; volunteering can make a huge difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Snowdon added, there was also a huge number of volunteers who helped homeowners in need after the recent wind storm.

“It shows the strong and enthusiastic spirit that Red Deer has; people volunteered immediately after the storm, it far exceeded our requests and it’s ongoing.”

The 150 Volunteer Challenge also helps recruit volunteers to do good work throughout their community, she added. It brings attention to the importance of volunteerism, and Red Deer has indeed begun to take notice.

However, volunteers don’t have go participate in a charity, or a not for profit organization in order to register volunteer hours. Random acts of kindness, that many people take for granted, such as babysitting or mowing a neighbour’s lawn, are considered informal volunteerism.

“There’s a lot of informal volunteerism happening, and people don’t realize it,” Snowdon said.

And it’s not only homeowners who are in need of volunteers on an ongoing basis, but also organizations that depend on volunteers to carry out their missions, make an impact and have a positive difference in the community, Snowdon added.

“Without volunteers it doesn’t get done.”

Looking forward, Snowdon is all the more confident that Red Deerians will continue to reach out and give a helping hand when and where it’s needed.

“I’m positive Red Deer can beat the other communities in July.”

Snowdon added she also hopes the 150 Volunteer Challenge will foster high levels of volunteerism through the year.

As the Volunteer Challenge web site also points out, formal volunteering can include activities such as canvassing for funds, providing advice, counselling or mentoring, visiting seniors, preparing and delivering food, serving as volunteer drivers, advocating for social causes and coaching children.

Other examples include serving on boards and committees.

Informal volunteering, as mentioned, is described as those actions that benefit people outside the family or household, too.

“Canadians are known for helping our neighbours, random acts of kindness like shovelling a sidewalk or buying someone’s coffee in the line up behind us. We organize community activities, like BBQs or litter clean-ups.”

For additional inquiries, or to register and track hours, volunteers can go to the Volunteer Central web site.