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'Tis The Season

Published: Oct 27, 2021 @ 1:16 PM

a rake and leaves on a lawnNot sure what about the leaves changing makes us think about community but it seems like our mailboxes have been exploding in the past couple weeks with families, youth and children looking to volunteer in their community. It has been really great to connect with people wanting to engage in community as a multigenerational unit. Not all opportunities or organizations are set up to support this type of experience and that is ok! If you have been looking on volunteerconnector.org and nothing has caught your attention here are some other thoughts for you.

Think of an issue or something not sitting right with you about your community ... do something about it. Maybe you think your community needs another garbage bin and it should be a beautiful? Maybe there is a great view for somewhere but there is no bench? We know food security is an issue in every community so maybe sourcing a community fridge or pantry is where you could put some time and energy.

Look again on volunteerconnector.org, perhaps an opportunity does sound interesting but they do not explicitly say it for children, youth or families. Get in touch with the organization, they might not have considered how the role could be filled with family or someone under 20 years old. 

Raise some funds for something your family cares about. There are plenty of organizations doing work and would be happy to receive some extra funds. Especially when the covid has made those annual fundraisers more difficult to hold. 

Use google to look up some of the lists out of there for acts of kindness, do one, five, thirty, whatever you have time for. Giving is not just a cheque to a recognizable organization. It is how you show up and make sure everyone in your community feels seen. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line, make muffins for the new neighbours, chalk inspirational phrases on the sidewalk, handout flowers at the grocery store ... there are about 56,300,000 more google results so we feel confident there is something there. 

 

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Bringing Happiness - Guest Blog

Published: Oct 19, 2021 @ 2:12 PM

anime pianoI remember that was a celebration for Chinese New Year, people gathered at an activity center. I firstly wanted to just celebrate with them, and enjoy the festival, but some of my friends know that I can play the piano, and invited me to play some music for the party. 

Initially I was quite nervous cuz I didn’t practice during that period, and I was suddenly invited to play the piano for them. I actually was only a beginner to play it. I thought that would be a disaster for me, but somehow I am quite excited. Maybe that was because I really wanna share what music I like to others. I wanted to be focused on. 

Then, I started playing the piano. The music was from some of my favorite anime songs and soundtrack. I learned the piano version from piano tutorial videos on YouTube. That was the best I could play. During the performance, a lot of mistakes were made, but I tried not to make more. 

The good thing was, people in there didn’t know anything about anime, so slight mistakes was not noticed at all. Some elders quite enjoyed the music, kids stopped playing toys, and everyone looked at me. I suddenly realized, it doesn’t matter if my performance is perfect, the true valuable thing should be the happiness I brought. 

Gradually, I started to made fewer mistakes, till the finale, I forgot what to play, but I quickly came up with another one. I just followed the feeling I had when I moved my fingers and touched the keyboard. It was like the piano it self was alive and led my performance. 

I heard about some ideas of the nature of music, which might be the language made by the intelligence in higher dimensions in this universe. No matter if that is true, my performance and joy was conveyed. 

This is the story of one of my volunteering, which came all of a sudden, but valuable because bringing joy and happiness to the community is also what I want. 

Thank you,

Yilin Ge

 

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Racist Trauma & Self Care

Published: Oct 12, 2021 @ 10:35 AM

We have launched Micro-Volunteering on the Connector. Along with the first opportunity our good friend Dr. Moyo Mutamba has provided a reflection reminder for all of us to tend to self care and acknowledge that racist trauma can show up anywhere.

 

Dear Volunteer,

Completing a survey that stirs emotions connected to racist experiences can bring up trauma for others. We will all respond differently to racist trauma and do self-care in diverse ways. However, whether you draw on conscious or subconscious processing mechanisms to care for yourself, it is crucial to take a moment to feel, reflect, and engage with where the trauma is showing up in your body. Doing this will set you up well to reduce the long-term impacts of racist retraumatization. What has worked for me is a compassionate approach to self-care, which consists of the following steps: 

Notice

  • The experience- observe what you have gone through
  • Feelings- note the feelings you are holding at the moment
  • Physical response-note physical reactions and the parts they are inhabiting

Assess

  • Not the intensity of both the feelings and physical responses. Noticing the intensity allows one to not underreact or overreact, supporting you in considering the self-care that is proportional to the situation. 

Communicate

  • Say your feelings and self-talk out loud. Notice what your feelings and thoughts are asking you to do.

Breathe

  • Take a deep breath for each thought, physical response, feeling. Or take a deep breath for 3-5minutes. This will calm your activated nervous system.

Consider talking to someone about your experience if you get triggered often by racist encounters or reminders.

Take good care.

Dr.  Moyo Rainos Mutamba

Co-director and Facilitator, Bloom Consulting

 

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You Know It's Time To Go

Published: Oct 6, 2021 @ 7:58 AM

(title inspired by tswift's bonus track - shout out to Lauren!! 🙂) 

Not all relationships last forever and your volunteering journey is no different. Like jobs and significant others you will probably have a couple in your lifetime. Here are the seven signs that it is time to move on from your current volunteer role, take an exhale or find something different: 

  • If you dread going every week- that feeling in the pit of your stomach is real, listen to it. 
  • If you feel unsafe - maybe not something that you can pinpoint or maybe something that has shifted during these pandemic times but this is a boundary that you get to set and adhere to. 
  • If you feel unsupported- sometimes the work that you are doing can feel meaningful but it can also feel like you are sending it into a void.
  • If it is causing you more stress than the joy you get from it - relationships are complicated and it would be probably be easy to leave if it was all bad but chances are there are still some great things. If it feels messy, get out the pro/con list and see how it plays out. 
  • If you are not using your skills - you probably set out to share a talent or gain more experience in a certain area, things change and if that desire has been accomplished then it is time to search for other opportunities. 
  • If life has changed- millions of ways life can shift for any of us (as the past 18 months have demonstrated) there is also moving, jobs, kids, family, illness, travel, priorities, renovations, other commitments sometimes something has to come off the plate. 
  • If your values no longer align - groups shift their focus sometimes and that is awesome! It might not resonate with you anymore which is also great but it is time to say goodbye. 

If any of these landed with you, fantastic! Knowing is something, now onto the breakup and we look forward to seeing you on the VolunteerConnector when you are ready, there are over 1000 opportunities waiting for you.

 

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Tablespoons Of Feeling

Published: Sep 28, 2021 @ 8:45 AM

We did a blog post months ago about Adam Grant's thoughts on languishing. He has since done a TED Talk on the topic with heavy emphasis on MarioCart.

Additionally, someone very wise shared last week that buckets do not get filled to the brim all at once nor through big cups, it is unfortunately through little tablespoons. In case that is where you are this week here are a couple of tablespoons from us to you ...

Fall colours, the leaves are glorious and there are things still blooming

Terry Fox, he is inspiring and he was all about caring for others. Terry's Story.

Sweater weather, it is the season for cool ​mornings, evenings, breezes and warm sunshine. 

Small talk (*in small doses), after all the isolations it is nice talk to people. 

Micheala Coel's Emmy acceptance speech, it was really beautiful.

 

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Why Should You Volunteer for This Opportunity?

Published: Sep 22, 2021 @ 8:53 AM

Why with arrows pointing at itIt is a big question. Time is an allocatable resource and very few people sit back and say they have too much of it, especially with a plethora of streaming services out there. Not going to sugar coat it but when the answer to this is "to feel good" or "be involved in your community" the blood pressure rises and  "NO! No! Do better!" is shouted at the ceiling. 

When we have asked volunteers to share their experiences engaging in community not one of them says those things. Not one. They talk about how they could use skills that they felt helped someone or a cause, they talked about feeling seen, they talked about realizing a passion, about meeting friends they now have for life, about moving the dial on a topic that kept them up at night, about having a reason to get up in the morning, about making healthier lifestyle choices, about the epic Christmas party, about teaching their children or grandchildren about taking care of each other, about getting a letter of reference for a post secondary program, about finding pockets of joy, about the insider or early access to something, about expressing themselves, sometimes it is even about the amazing t-shirt they got!

So this is the challenge to any of the thousands of entities out there looking for the privilege of engaging people in volunteerism, be bold in promises of why! Because engaging in community offers hundreds of opportunities to change peoples lives and we need to be specific and explicit about that potential. 

 

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It's Our Vote

Published: Sep 14, 2021 @ 3:14 PM

We want to encourage everyone to get out and vote. As you think about that sense of community and belonging that motivates you to volunteer, we wonder if that same spirit can be used next week.

What if you did not think about you on Monday, September 20?

Wild idea here at volunteerconnector.org as we close in on the federal election next week - what if you did not think about yourself when you cast your ballot next week? Bonkers I know! It is your vote! You're right! You have been issued a card in the mail with YOUR name on it! There are things that are important to YOU! There is a whole platform dedicated to seeing where you land in the spectrum of opinions! Side note: it is worth doing if you have not tried it (https://votecompass.cbc.ca/canada)

Hear us out on the not thinking of you thing though ...

We are in year two of pandemic, things look different depending on where you are in the country but safe to say there is universal languishing. The news and social media can all feel like a lot. We are all tired. So very tired. When you go to cast your vote on Monday it might be worth considering how someone else might vote who maybe might not be able to or who would appreciate if their vote was magnified. Someone whose life might depend on the outcome. We don't have the answers but we do feel strongly that we are all in this together and we have to take care of each other. Here is a very incomplete list of fellow humans who one might consider the views of when participating in democracy: 

  • someone who lost their home in a wildfire this year 
  • someone whose relative did not come home from a residential school 
  • someone who lives in an encampment 
  • someone who has an opiod addiction
  • someone who has had interactions with the criminal punishment system 
  • someone who navigates the world with a disability 
  • someone who is new to Canada 
  • someone ...

... it might even be worth seeking out that person and having a conversation with them before Monday on what they think.

For all the information you need to vote check out Elections Canada.

 

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Wow, You Are A Real Person

Published: Sep 9, 2021 @ 8:16 AM

The inboxes have been pretty quiet the past 2 weeks but as the leaves start to change and we start seeing those big yellow buses it feels like the energy starts to shift. It seems like as good a time as any to check in! "Wow you are a real person" is an exclaimation we often hear when returning a voicemail or answering an email. There seems to be genuine shock that in a digital space there are indeed real people behind the screens. Perhaps we have all been conditioned with chat robots and elevator music while on hold but yes we are indeed 'real people' here at volunteerconnector.org

In the middle of August we gathered for our holiday lunch, it was rainy and there was a lovely view of a lagoon. We mostly talked about the cool birds we had seen recently and our garden successes from the year. Highlights include a hydrangea that finally bloomed, many roses, a bountiful herb harvest and pumpkins that are thriving on milk! On the fowl front we are all dazzled by birds of prey- osprey, bald eagles and colour there were a couple gold finch sightings and a family of North American Ruddy Ducks. So we are real indeed real people who are always happy to chat about volunteering, community, plants and birds.

 

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To Borrow A Line From Nike…”Just Do It” - Guest Blog

Published: Aug 18, 2021 @ 9:54 AM

two hearts made by handsIf we stop to think about what is the biggest moment in our life that we really need help, and someone to take care of us, probably we can say our baby times. One little child needs somebody to help them to survive. Thinking about this situation you could only imagine a little baby, with only a few days in life abandoned at the hospital, without protection. This situation is not a fiction story, about a movie, or something else, but unfortunately it is totally real. I would not like to start the story this way but it is how I gave my time to help someone.

To give your time to someone, to totally help is the most awesome experience of my life. It has changed my whole life, specifically how I look at the world and those around me. I met that child in a terrible situation - alone at the hospital. I was employed at the office of an NGO, volunteering at night taking care of children living there. I felt love the first moment I held that baby in my arms. I had the opportunity to feed him and observe him while he was sleeping.  I was totally involved in that experience. A few months later I had the opportunity to give him to his new family. I could feel how much love and appreciation someone had for someone giving their time and the impact on someone’s life.

Volunteering is not about donating and charity events, it is about so much more. It is about a routine that people on the outside do not see. If you have the opportunity to impact lives, and make some difference to someone, don’t think about it, just do it. These actions enrich our community and incentivize others to be a volunteer.  

Thank You,

Mayara Keron

 

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We Had A Summit!

Published: Aug 10, 2021 @ 3:22 PM

On July 6 we gathered on the good ole' zoom with our regional partners from across the country to share some helpful updates on the platform! There was attendance from coast to coast, from Sunshine Coast, British Columbia to Miramichi, New Brunswick. Always soul affirming to congregate with humans who care deeply about their communities. The updates have been live on the platform for a couple weeks, but it was a great chance to walk through it and answer questions! The summit also featured a presentation from our very own Doug (yep, we own one of those rare creatures). Doug shared that we are on track to see 3 million visits to the volunteerconnector.org this year and that we continue to see growth in communities (welcome to our newest regional partners City of Kimberley and Red Deer Community Foundation). Doug also shared our continued commitment to social justice and decolonizing our thinking, system of volunteering and the VolunteerConnector platform. 

We were also pleased to welcome Deborah Pike from Volunteer Canada who shared information from a report that was published in December 2020 called 'Volunteering Lens of Covid-19'. Of note was that of the organizations who responded to the survey almost half anticipate to continuing offering virtual volunteer roles through the fall of 2021. Thank you, Deborah for taking the time and sharing the work Volunteer Canada has been up to! 

If you want to get on the guest list for the next one get in touch (info@volunteerconnector.org). It is a cool bunch of people to hang out with!

 

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