This is a great question and you might know the most common themes, but the full answer may surprise you, so keep on reading.
For many, volunteering is a way to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of others. For some, volunteering is a great route to employment or a chance to try something new. Volunteering in your community can make you feel valued and part of a team as well as gain confidence, self-esteem, skills, accreditation, and connections. People all over Canada know the value of volunteering. According to Stats Canada, about 1 in 2 Canadians volunteer their time, energy and skills to charitable and non-profit organizations.
Volunteers are an integral part of the Cambridge Neighbourhood Organizations. We rely on our volunteers to help execute programs and initiatives that improve our neighbourhoods. To further illustrate the benefits of volunteering, Volunteer Canada has created the following chart to show how volunteering impacts the volunteers, organizations, businesses, neighbourhood and society.
The pandemic has impacted all sectors; some greater than others. With capacity restrictions and facility closures, volunteering has become more difficult during the pandemic. However, there are still numerous opportunities for individuals to engage with their community. For example, many of the Neighbourhood Associations (NA) across Cambridge have transitioned to virtual programming that have provided some opportunities for their volunteers.
Beyond virtual opportunities, many of the NA’s have created a campaign called Notes of Hope Cambridge edition which was inspired by the Notes of Hope by the Guelph Community Health Centre. This project engaged new and returning youth volunteers over the early 2022 lockdown by having them create postcards with words of encouragement and inspiration. These cards were distributed throughout the neighbourhoods to retirement homes, hospitals and faith centres.
The NA’s are always looking for volunteers of all ages and commitment levels to volunteer their time and expertise. Community members are encouraged to bring forward project ideas that they would like to see in their neighbourhoods and collaborate with their NA to bring those ideas to life.
For example, a few volunteers came together with the idea of creating a Haunted Centre Event at their neighbourhood association, Greenway Chaplin Community Centre (GCCC). The staff at GCCC were thrilled by this idea and applied for funding to bring their vision alive. To say the least the Haunted Centre was a huge success – “Participating in scaring kids aha! But also getting to set up and seeing how many people would attend. Watching the whole thing form itself and adapting to the way in which we made it function the best it could. The best thing was working with my neighborhood friends the whole time.”
For volunteers who are eager to improve their skills, there are many online resources available to enhance existing skills or get new certifications from anywhere!
The Volunteer Action Centre is a non-profit organization committed to volunteerism in Waterloo Region. In addition to highlighting volunteer opportunities across the region, they have numerous online training resources, including Equity Training Videos, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Training Program, and Cross-Cultural Connections. For more information on these training and volunteer opportunities, please visit https://www.volunteerwr.ca/.
If you are interested in earning certifications to help you in the workforce, Food Handling Certification can be obtained from https://www.foodsafetytraining.ca/, and Smart Serve certificate can be obtained from https://smartserve.ca/. Whether you would like to obtain a certificate, earn college/university credits or just learn new topics, you can easily find any course on any topic through Coursera at https://www.coursera.org/. You can also always reach out to your NA for more information and resources.