Recognizing volunteers

April 21-27 marks National Volunteer Week, and it’s the ideal time to honour our local residents who give so much of themselves to various organizations all year long.

Now in its 71st year, National Volunteer Week is indeed all about volunteer recognition. Canada’s volunteers make a tremendous contribution in communities across the country and around the globe. They make our communities resilient and our country vibrant. Statistics show 13.3 million Canadians contribute 2.1 billion hours, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.

The top three reasons Canadians volunteer are to make a contribution to their community, to make use of personal skills and experiences and to support a cause they have been personally affected by. More than half of Canada’s 161,000 non-profit and charitable organizations have no paid staff and rely on volunteers to build houses for the homeless, care for the elderly, provide counseling and support services and serve as youth group leaders, program coordinators, coaches and fundraisers.

Each amounts to satisfaction in knowing that the lives of others have been improved through one’s time and effort.

Here in Red Deer, we hear time and time again how fantastic local volunteers are, and how quick they are to consistently step up to the plate – no matter the type of event they are being called on to help out with. Organizers often point out that they just couldn’t have pulled off their particular events without the dedication of volunteers. Red Deer hosts all kinds of events that volunteers can get involved with – including the recent Special Olympics, the Allan Cup Tournament plus regular events like CentreFest and this week’s Festival of the Performing Arts.

Today, volunteers are involved in more ways than ever. Every day, Canadians lend a hand to their neighbours and friends. And many of them don’t realize that in doing so they’re volunteering.

Many people from Red Deer and Central Alberta travel abroad to lend a helping hand with various projects as well. We’ve heard countless stories of locals traveling to developing countries to help out on a number of fronts. Even those unable to travel will do their part by perhaps raising funds locally to help support such causes.

National Volunteer Week began in 1943 to draw attention to the vital contribution women made to the war effort on the home front. Although the week was largely forgotten after the war ended, it experienced a revival in the late 1960s, when organizations stressed the importance of thanking volunteers across Canada.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many dedicated volunteers here in our area, and encourage those thinking about volunteering to get involved – the rewards are plentiful.

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