Volunteer Central has taken over a small space at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery (MAG) where a focus can be drawn to volunteers across Central Alberta.
The exhibit features an interactive table, where volunteers can place a building block to represent how they help build up the City. It also features many photographs of volunteers, information about volunteering and draws attention to the wonderful reasons that people volunteer.
The exhibit will remain in the MAG until the end of August. Until then, citizens are encouraged to come and see the many wonderful faces of volunteers and to consider their place in communities, organizers say.
“We’re so happy to partner with Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery and put up our volunteer exhibit, which is running now until the end of August. It just showcases a few of the many volunteers in Central Alberta that make things happen,” said Karen Oatway of Volunteer Central.
“Just by the display, you can tell it’s young people, older people, male, female – everybody can get involved. There is always a volunteer opportunity for each person and all of those people are recognized here.”
The exhibit opens just in time to be celebrated during the National Volunteer Week, April 12th-18th. This time is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating all of the volunteers across the country.
Volunteers come from all walks of life. Volunteers bring concerts, shows, galas and many other events to life, such as carnivals, school celebrations and City-wide campaigns, such as the Canada Winter Games bid.
Oatway said that she hopes the exhibit will remind people of all of the diversity in being a volunteer, from socioeconomic status, to gender, to age and everything in between.
“We quite often hear that people want to volunteer but don’t know where. They can go to the Volunteer Central web site and there are tons of volunteer opportunities so people can find what works best for them. With this display, I hope that people see that these people are just like them,” she said.
“There are people who are putting in time and helping out, so maybe other people will see that and think, ‘I can do that too.’ Or maybe they’ll see that even though people are really busy in the world, they can still fit in volunteering and maybe that will inspire some people to volunteer.”
Oatway shared her thanks to several guests of the opening, including Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, who gave an official proclamation in regards to Volunteer Week.
Wood spoke about the far-reaching affects of volunteerism within a community, and said that he is proud to be associated with a region (Central Alberta) that puts so much focus and effort into volunteering.
‘The Ripple Effect’ is a national theme for volunteer week this year. On www.volunteer.ca, the Volunteer Canada web site, this theme was chosen so that people would consider lasting effects of volunteering.
“I grew up in a family where you volunteered and that’s just what you did. I’ve met some incredible people. I’ve met celebrities and have had so much fun volunteering. I’ve been able to help other people,” said Oatway.
“Even the times where I thought I wasn’t making a big effect on people, years later a few of those people came to me and said things like, ‘Something you said to me really stuck and it really affected me,’ and I had no idea!”
Often times, people struggle with finding a balance of time between work, home life, volunteering, family and relationships. For people who are unsure of whether or not they have the time to get out and volunteer, Oatway urges them to let go of that thought, check out the Volunteer Central web site and find what fits for them.
The opportunities for volunteerism in Central Alberta are everywhere. Through the Volunteer Central web site, a person can eliminate some stress by searching for a volunteer opportunity by organization, category and many other selections.
“I think there are a million volunteers that don’t fully understand the impact that they have on the community. They’re helping one person, and it’s a ripple effect: it helps their kids, it helps their spouses and sometimes it inspires them to help others. It goes on and on. And the other part is that it helps the volunteers themselves,” Oatway said of the benefits of volunteering.
Oatway said when she volunteers and helps somebody else who is going through something difficult, it humbles her and reminds her that instead of looking at her own problems, she can contribute to making someone’s life easier.
She added that although sometimes it is hard to not feel bad about one’s situation, volunteering makes you feel good because it relates to a bigger picture and allows you to give something of yourself to people who truly need it.