Volunteerism – get involved, damn it!

I have written before about volunteerism and what is means to me. From volunteering at one’s school to participating in our civic processes, volunteering is a way to “give back” (I’m not particularly fond of that term) to the community and to gain a certain measure of self-satisfaction in the process.

I have given up a lot of my free time over my adult life to a number of organisations, and I have learned much about myself and others by doing so. The type of folks who volunteer alongside me are, for the most part, the type of folks with whom I like to spend time, chat and share experiences. They are dedicated, hard-working and truly believe that what they are doing is valuable and necessary. And they are correct.

A lot of Canadians volunteer a LOT of hours in a year. Check it out:

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That’s 154 hours, on average, for that 43.6% of the population that engage in volunteer activities. Put another way, that’s equal to just about 4 full 40 hour work weeks… and not paid a dime for any of them! Wow!

But you say that this is misleading because this includes all Canadians, regardless of whether they are holding down jobs outside the home or not. After all, many stay-at-home Moms and Dads perform daytime duties at their kids’ schools… like running milk programs, pizza days, helping in the class, etc. But no – check out this other graphic:

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So it turns out that those with jobs actually volunteer more, not less than the population as a whole. Pretty incredible, eh?

Why the rant today about all this?

Well, last night was my last AGM of the childcare services not-for-profit that I have been involved with for about 8 years. It has been a rewarding experience which has allowed me to have a small measure of influence over the childcare experiences of my two youngest kids. Some of my fellow Board members have been able soldiers (being Ottawa, we’ve even had REAL soldiers!) who have guided the organisation through some pretty rough waters at time. The long-time (former as of last year) President (let’s call him “Kevin”) was and is one of the hardest working volunteers that I have ever worked with and is a true credit to his community. I hope he knows that. And I’m certain that the current President will be equally up to the task in the coming months and year.

But I’ll miss this particular unpaid gig. My kids have “graduated” from that organisation now and I’m finding myself pretty stretched for time since taking on a bigger role at my Community Association. Still, I do not regret a moment of the many hours that I devoted to the organisation.

If you haven’t already joined the millions of Canadians who give up part of their free time to give meaningfully to their community, then you might want to think about it. You too won’t regret a moment of it.

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