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Making a Difference

By Nadia Goodhart

“I am just one person, how can I make a difference?”

I used to ask myself this question all the time. Then I started volunteering. I couldn’t believe how many organizations run on volunteer manpower. From boards to soup kitchens, they all relied on the generosity of individuals to get them through the year.

Why should you volunteer?

  1. Volunteers live longer and are healthier.
  2. Volunteering establishes strong relationships.
  3. Volunteering is good for your career.
  4. Volunteering is good for society.
  5. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.

Volunteering exercises your mind and your body. Some organizations need physical man-power like sorting food to fighting fires while others need critical thinking skills like on sitting on a board to translating services into another language.

You can volunteer with friends, neighbors, co-workers or family. You will meet people outside your social circle that want to give back to their community. You will also meet friendly faces (the do-gooders of the world) and may make lifelong friends.

If you are a stay at home parent, unemployed and looking to get back into the workforce, or looking to get into another position at your current job, volunteering is a great asset for your resume. You will learn skills or build on experience that you can take with you into your next job. You can also get references from the volunteer coordinator or supervisor to take to your interview.

There are so many organizations that run on volunteer hours. Volunteers bring diversity, new skill sets and a sense of purpose. Organizations that have a strong volunteer base are usually more successful, have a strong community bond and are more likely to make you feel valued and part of a team.  You may work for the less fortunate to gain a better understanding of their situation. You may be able to lend a voice, be an advocate for the vulnerable and show that you care for those who need help. It will also get you aware of your local community’s needs.

Who can volunteer?

There are organizations that require you to be 16 years or older but there are some that welcome kids to volunteer with their parents. The organization would be able to provide you with guidelines of who they need and what duties are involved.

Where can I volunteer?

Some of the organizations that need volunteers year-round are local festivals, community boards, sports teams, religious institutions, charities, Food Bank, vulnerable sector groups just to name a few. Talk to your friends or co-workers and get an idea or where they have volunteered or would like to. Look at social media to see what organizations are doing call out for volunteers.

Do you have a skill that you think others may benefit from? Do you want to work with like-minded individuals? Do you want to grow your network? There is probably an organization that is looking right now for you to apply. You are just one person, but mama YOU will be making a difference when you volunteer. 

“Volunteering ignites positive changes on so many levels. It provides much-needed resources to people in need, your community, and worthwhile causes. It also has so many personal benefits. Volunteering helps me feel connected to my community, inspires kindness, and keeps me mentally and physically active. It’s the kind of activity that keeps you coming back for more!” – Jody Spencer – founder of Because Edmonton Cares

Nadia volunteers for a variety of organizations throughout the year. This year, she organized a campaign at her workplace to get people to volunteer 150 hours for Canada’s 150th birthday. Her goal is to seek ways to help her community be a better place. Nadia lives in Edmonton and is a mama to 3.