Helping others is one of the greatest gifts you can give and National Volunteer Week, which runs until April 25, is as good a time as any to start giving.
Deborah Gardner, executive director of Volunteer Toronto, says National Volunteer Week is a time for awareness and appreciation of the crucial role volunteers play in the fabric of Canada.
“We look at National Volunteer Week as a way to focus on all the things volunteers do. Volunteers make a huge difference in the community — things happen because of volunteers,” Gardner said.
To help get youth caught up in the festivities, Volunteer Toronto launched the ChariTee design contest to let the public create a T-shirt that captures the volunteering spirit. The winning design by George Brown student Tlell Davidson was chosen after more than 10,000 public votes and will be available for purchase at charitee.ca with proceeds going to charities including Free The Children.
The organization is also challenging youth in Ontario to sign up for five hours of volunteering time during National Volunteer Week with the hope of garnering 10,000 new volunteers across the province.
Nowhere Like Home, a home-care services firm in Toronto, will be volunteering its own staff members to help support volunteer organizations throughout the city during the week. Opal Rowe, president of Nowhere Like Home, says the reason she felt the need to get involved with National Volunteer Week is to highlight just how crucial volunteers are to the health of non-profit organizations.
“Most of these organizations will tell you (that) without volunteers, they could not survive. This week is a chance for non-profits to pay homage and thank their volunteers for their hard work,” Rowe said.
Desiree Lavoy-Dorsth, 23, volunteers for Nowhere Like Home and says volunteering is often just as life-changing for volunteers as it is for the communities they help.
“Giving back, you just see how important volunteering is and how much it helps you as well as the community. It gives you a sense that you’re doing something good,” Lavoy-Dorsth said.
For 17-year-old Antoinette Smith, the joy of helping people started two years ago when her mother convinced her to volunteer at a local community centre.
“My mom is my model, my inspiration,” said Smith.
“I love helping others and it’s really fun just seeing children happy and making a difference in their lives.”
With events happening in cities and communities around the country, log on to volunteer.ca to find out more.