Recognizing the Value of Volunteers

This week is National Volunteer Week in Canada. Volunteers give so much of themselves, often for very little credit. But credit or not, we frequently hear from volunteers how much they gain from their experience. They are grateful to be able to offer their time.

This year feels a bit special though. Now, maybe more than ever, we are reminded of just how important volunteers are to holding together the social fabric of our community. Because in 2020, many organizations in the social sector were no longer able to rely on their volunteers to help.

COVID-19 Restrictions

During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public health restrictions meant that many volunteers weren’t able to fulfill their normal roles. With physical distancing requirements, fears about how COVID-19 could spread in our community and extremely vulnerable populations, many non-profit organizations had to pivot – which meant paying staff to fulfill those roles.

It soon became obvious how critical those volunteers were to their organizations. From the leadership that helps to guide the organization to boots on the ground, volunteers make non-profits more effective and efficient. That’s extremely important when every dollar matters.

Replacing volunteers with additional staff hours was costly and was challenging during a pandemic. Many Halifax area charities turned to United Way’s Atlantic Compassion Fund to help pay for additional staff, in turn benefitting vulnerable people when they were hurting the most.

Volunteers care

Volunteers in the social sector do very practical things, like helping make sure people have access to food, clothes or other necessities. But their extra special super power is their ability to connect with others, contributing to well-being and a sense of belonging. A friendly face when you’re lonely can make a huge difference. Volunteers are often that friendly face, or the voice on the other end of the phone line or Zoom call. They care about the people they serve. They even save lives.

We’re so grateful many volunteers in Atlantic Canada are back to doing what they do best, even if the circumstances are a little different. Your compassion for community is so incredibly valuable. Thank you for all that you do!

Do you know a volunteer in our community? Thank them for the time they’ve given our community! If you are a volunteer, we’d love to know how it has impacted your life.