National Volunteer Week is between April 24 and April 30 in recognition, appreciation, and celebration for volunteers across Canada.
David Maffitt, Chair Director for the Board of Directors of Volunteer Airdrie, says the way Airdrie recognizes volunteers varies from year to year.
“With COVID-19, we haven't been able to do any in-person events for the last two years.”
Volunteer Airdrie is a nonprofit society in Alberta that recognizes volunteers for the City of Airdrie and the surrounding area of Rocky View County. They connect people who want to volunteer with volunteer opportunities and also assist nonprofit groups in terms of building the capacity to use volunteers effectively.
Maffitt says the goal for Volunteer Airdrie is to connect the community through volunteerism, and get back to the small-town rural roots of Alberta where people know their neighbors and help each other.
“When we help each other, it's a form of what we call informal volunteering.” Says Maffitt.
Formal volunteering is when someone helps a nonprofit organization by applying to become a volunteer, then as the organization requires volunteers, volunteers sign up to help the nonprofit organization with whatever the opportunity is.
Maffitt says around 75 per cent of the volunteerism that happens is informal stuff that we are not even aware of.
“We think of volunteering as a two-way street when it comes to benefiting.” Says Maffitt.
Maffitt says there's been a lot of studies done that correlate better physical, mental, and emotional health to people who are out and actively interacting with other people in the community as volunteers.
Volunteers benefit from their experience by gaining new skills to get a job, references for job applications, or meeting new people and friends with the same interests. Volunteering can also build the feeling of belonging to a certain place with social connections that improve the resilience of Airdrie as a community.
Maffitt defines volunteering as “an activity where you are giving of your time and expertise without any expectation of being compensated financially.”
Thinking about your passions and your interests before applying for a volunteer position can make the experience more impactful because it’s on a personal level about something you care about.
“There are a certain number of qualifications depending on the position, but we like to say that we've got volunteer opportunities for anybody.” Says Maffitt.
The current guideline for youth is that if they want to volunteer, they must bring a parent with them.
Usually, volunteer positions start picking up at the beginning of the school year because sports organizations are looking for volunteers to help as coaches and referees. There are also more opportunities for volunteers around the holidays.
Now that health restrictions have been lifted, a resurgence in community events has sprung, volunteer opportunities are being planned for the summer.
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