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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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We Have Some New Friends In Ontario

Published: Aug 4, 2021 @ 3:18 PM

giant nickel in sudburyWe like to connect with people across Canada and see what they are up to. We recently connected with some awesome people in Sudbury who have been rocking volunteerism through the pandemic. They partnered with the City of Greater Sudbury to create Virtual Service Hubs to help increase digital literacy, internet access and ensure residents were able to access critical services that went online during the restrictions.  COVID - Virtual Activity Pods also served a critical role in support of seniors in the Sudbury to stay connected and also complete project together that benefitted the community like knitting winter-wear and writing thank-you notes for frontline workers. 

They took on those additional projects on top of their normal work which includes supporting anyone interested in volunteering in and around Sudbury with a special focus on supporting people who are confronted with systemic barriers in accessing a volunteer experiences. 

In chatting with Megan it was clear the team is passionate about their community and making sure people feel like they belong. Very inspiring!

So if you ever find yourself staring up at a Big Nickel and thinking about getting engaged in your community or connecting with a cool causes then go hang out with the team at Volunteer Sudbury. We look forward to continuing to see what they get up to and are so glad we met!

If you are in Ontario and want to chat with us to tell us about volunteerism in your area ... we would love to hear from you: info@volunteerconnector.org.

 

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Things That Make Us Happy

Published: Jul 27, 2021 @ 12:05 PM

We regularly review the platform to make sure it is working for organizations, volunteers and for general operational integrity. We see all types of opportunities on the platform, every single one of them gets views which is helpful. There have been some in the past couple years that have stuck out- an airplane restorationist and a big data buff were cool and unusual. It is a good place to peruse if you are looking for inspiration for what is possible for your own organization. There are two posts that have caught our attention this week for two totally different reasons. 

The first one is from the Foolish Operations Society. Love, love, love that they have taken an anti-ableist stance by including this line "Accessibility note : The pathway to the performance site is a 4-5 minutes' walk. The ground is uneven. This position is difficult of access for individuals using wheelchairs." It will bode very well for our communities when we begin to consider the ways in which lots of people move through the world. A good lesson for us all in the information that can be included in opportunities to make them considerate.  

The next one is from Fixt Point Arts. First off who does not want to be part of an Empathy Squad?! Seems great! What really lands with this opportunity is the strong balance of skill development and community connection. It is an opportunity that is just as much about picking up podcasting skills as it is about the work of collecting oral stories. Plus, "amplifying of voices, centering of overlooked stories, and celebrating unsung heroes" is work that really matters. 

 

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What People Care About

Published: Jul 20, 2021 @ 4:09 PM

Context of volunteer timeWe watch a lot of things here on the Connector. One of those things is what people are most interested and how that changes over time. I know we've said it before but we have seen a lot of grassroots initiatives pop up throughout the pandemic. We think it's that automatic response to our neighbourly care kicking in. Turns out a few others think that too. A friend forwarded me this link today - How the rise of grassroots organizing changed the pandemic – and the non-profit sector

We've done a few presentations in the last two months to share the trends we see. Take a look at the photo and draw your own conclusions about what volunteers think is important 20 months into this pandemic and as things are reopening ever so slightly.

 

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A Love Note To Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Published: Jul 6, 2021 @ 4:59 PM

Halfway through 2021 seems like a great time to do a Dr. Ibram X. Kendi appreciation post. His voice, his words, his brilliance has helped us at VolunteerConnector and many others navigate all the learning and unlearning involved in the lifelong and generational antiracism work. 

You can find him and his content in lots of different spaces and places on social media:

He has published 8 books, 2 of which are for children. The favourited page for toddlers and adults alike within Antiracist Baby is page 3 - "Point at policies as the problem, not people" - something that bears repeating to oneself repeatedly. Plus, it has some awesome butterfly illustrations! He writes for lots of additional publications including a monthly column in The Atlantic. What we are saying is whether it is 142 characters or a hardcover book, engage with his work!

Finally, it is his new podcast that has been leading to lots of great conversation, lots of pauses and best of all lots of discomfort. Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi (found wherever you listen to any podcast) is a brilliant study in intersectionality. He welcomes guests in each episode to help guide us the listener in what it takes to make a society that is more equitable and therefore better for all of us. So far, they have covered topics like LGBTQ+ justice, Ableism, voting suppression and the Zero-Sum Myth. It is so, so good. So good. 

Oh and he also runs the Centre for Antiracist Research ... so check them out too! 

 

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Getting It Done

Published: Jun 30, 2021 @ 9:52 AM

In 2020 the volunteerconnector.org saw a 19% increase in grassroots organizations, we expect that to double this year. More and more people using the reach and ease of the Connector to make people aware of issues that matter in their communities.

Grassroots organizing is collective action that begins literally at the root. As a result, these groups are extraordinarily nimble and able to rapidly respond to need or a change. Besides the volunteerconnector.org these organizations often post their needs and opportunities via social media. This is another great reason to curate the accounts you follow and engage with to inspire you to connect with things you care about.

In the past few weeks, there have been a couple cool examples of grassroots organizing and participation leading to change. In British Columbia, the Rainforest Flying Squad has been working in support of  Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to halt old growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed through a blockade. The blockade and the work of those involved just resulted in the premier declaring a two-year moratorium. In the middle of the country last week community members and neighbours joined together to support the people who were being evicted from Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. Although the evictions still took place the resistance made international news coverage and that coverage made a lot of us think about the ways we take care of each other and how we treat people who do not have houses. That awareness matters. 

Finally, if you live in an urban centre and are looking for ways to make sure people in your community are ok in this intense summer weather find your local Bear Clan Patrol and check out what they are asking for.​

 

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