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Communication is Key

Published: Nov 29, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

Guest Blog this week from Jacob, a grade 12 student from Ottawa, Ontario. 

My volunteering journey began at Black Belt Excellence, a Taekwondo dojang I'd been a part of for around 8-9 years with my sister. I decided to quit Taekwondo when Covid hit, right after I earned my Black Belt. I started volunteering when I was about 12, joining the leadership team to help the lower belt-level students(But also to cut my mom some slack from waiting around.) Black Belt Excellence wasn't just a place to learn martial arts; it was also a hub of values that shaped me. Some of the values I learned just through training, but some of the most important ones came from volunteering. One skill that stood out as crucial was communication. 

Volunteering taught me how to offer constructive feedback and communicate in a genuinely helpful way. In the beginning, I was inexperienced so I was more general, I would say "Your timing was off." But pretty quickly, I realized that such feedback didn't provide much insight, and it wasn't encouraging. So, I changed my approach. I started giving feedback that was more detailed and positive. For example, instead of just pointing out the issue, I'd say something like, "I noticed that you're not fully turning into your kicks, which might make you lose power. Maybe you could try turning your hips more during the kick? It could really help you get some more power."

This new way of correcting made a big difference. Students seemed to appreciate the more specific and understanding feedback. They understood their mistakes better while also being more motivated to work on them. This shift in how I communicated didn't just improve their techniques; it created a more positive atmosphere of learning and respect in the dojang.

Being a volunteer felt good too, being wanted and appreciated for the work you were doing, and sharing your knowledge and abilities to create a positive impact on the community felt great. Not just that but volunteering also helps to teach essential skills. Even if you are already an expert, being a volunteer offers unique challenges and opportunities to grow. Volunteering shows you new perspectives and people, allowing you to refine your leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. The lessons I learned during my time as a volunteer continue to shape my perspective, and the skills I learned continue to help me in my day-to-day life.


The Continuum of Civic Engagement

Published: Nov 22, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

Our friends at Volunteer Toronto have created some awesome things in pursuit of enlivening civic engagement in their city. We love to share things that can be helpful no matter what corner of the country you find yourself in; large or small; vibrant or languishing. 

You can take a quiz to find out your civic engagement style and explore the 7 different ways you can give back in your community. We are very into the whole vibe of everyone currently holds space in their community but next year it can look completely different. Here are the seven ways to engage in your community Build Empathy, Connect with Others, Give Resources, Give Time & Skills, Be Heard, Start Organizing and Get Political. Locate yourself within the continuum and explore some other ways to engage to in your community. Such a great resource for providing language for the many ways people participate in their towns, cities and communities across the country. 

Take the self-assessment quiz here.

Check out the full continuum here

Thanks Volunteer Toronto for the energy and work! 


Next. Symposium Community Learnings

Published: Nov 14, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Our Next. Symposium group gathered again to further process and reflect on their learnings from the event! Here are some of their key takeaways:

  • when the world feels heavy know that there are little bits of kindness happening everywhere
  • Gen Z should take over the world immediately
  • the charitable sector is made up of human beings and these humans need space in their jobs to FEEL and not just work
  • we are in a time and place where radical change is needed
  • sometimes the best way to start a tough conversation with a volunteer is to say “sounds like you are not having a good time?”



Holiday Opportunities

Published: Nov 8, 2023 @ 12:50 PM

Create your holiday opportunities now while thousands of volunteers are looking.

Did you know that over 6,500 volunteer searches are happening everyday? People are looking for you!

We are just starting the holiday season. Well, maybe it's a bit early to say that . . . but it is never too early to be thinking about how to engage current and new volunteers over the next few months.Take advantage of the 3 month trial that allows you to access all the features of the VolunteerConnector.

Inspiring individuals - not sure where to start when recruiting? 

Be inspired by our Guest Bloggers. As they share their experiences you will find there is plenty of ways to engage people to share their passion with you and your cause. In many ways it is volunteering that has shaped their lives more than any other as these friends of ours looked to make an Impact, build Connections and find that sense of Belonging in their communities.



Adventures In Volunteering - A Part Of Our Heritage

Published: Nov 1, 2023 @ 11:16 AM

As snowflakes danced delicately through the wintry air, Jeff, a diligent University of Calgary student, found himself embarking on a unique journey. The opportunity arose during the festive Christmas season when he engaged in a group volunteering experience at Heritage Park. Little did Jeff know that this experience would not only deepen his understanding of Calgary's diverse history but also leave an indelible mark on his own life.

Nestled on the outskirts of Calgary, Heritage Park stood as a living monument to the city's past. As Jeff walked through the gates adorned with festive decorations, he was immediately transported back in time to an era marked by horse-drawn carriages, Victorian architecture, and the rustic charm of a bygone age. Luckily, he didn’t need a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to make the journey!

Jeff's volunteering involved various tasks, from decorating traditional Christmas trees to assisting with historical reenactments. Immersed in the spirit of the season, he found himself interacting with visitors and embracing the myriad stories that Heritage Park held within its walls. Each day brought a new adventure, one day he would find himself immersed in the role of a cashier in the penny candy store, another day he would be the editor-in-chief at the local printing press!

One particular afternoon, as Jeff stood amidst the historically preserved buildings adorned with festive wreaths, he met a historian who shared captivating anecdotes about the early settlers' struggles and triumphs in establishing Calgary. Jeff's eyes widened with curiosity and admiration, realizing how much these stories resonated with his own personal journey of establishing himself as a first generation Canadian navigating the Calgary community.

The Christmas ambiance added a special touch to this historical exploration. Wreathed in the scent of freshly cut pine and the sounds of carolers, Jeff discovered a harmonious blend of past and present. The experience became a poignant reminder of the deep cultural roots woven into the fabric of the city. Through this experience Jeff could also envision where he fit, as an integral part of Calgary’s rich culturally diverse tapestry.

As the volunteering days passed, Jeff found himself not just partaking in the park's activities but contributing to its preservation. His involvement in reviving historical customs and practices ignited a sense of pride in being a custodian of Calgary's heritage.

The experience at Heritage Park during the holiday season turned out to be a transformative journey for Jeff. It wasn't just about learning the history from books; it was about living, breathing, and experiencing the past firsthand. The vivid encounters with Calgary's diverse legacy left an indelible impression on Jeff, shaping his perspective and instilling a newfound sense of belonging for the eager young volunteer.

At the end of his assignment, Jeff's time at Heritage Park during Christmas became more than just a volunteering stint. It became a voyage through time, an eye-opening experience that unraveled the layers of Calgary's diverse past, and a personal journey that left Jeff with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the vibrant historical mosaic that Calgary proudly embodies.



Volunteering is Terrific

Published: Oct 25, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

This week we are featuring a guest blog from Rachel Wong. Rachel is a lifelong volunteer within Calgary’s Chinese community. She started volunteering when at 9 years old and have been continuously involved with the community since then! 

Volunteering is Terrific

Community is such an integral part of society. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see people coming together to help others, whether it be helping to provide basic necessities, or rallying together to promote a good cause, volunteering is a terrific way to help connect with and uplift others. 

So when 2020 rolled around, and the world went into lockdown, community was needed more than ever. As I moved back home from university at the end of the school year, 3 veteran Chinatown community members contacted me to ask if I would be interested in helping them spearhead a social media campaign that would encourage Calgarians to support their local businesses. It was called #AddOilYYC. We had a total of 5 youths on our team, with me as team lead, plus the 3 veteran community members as our mentors that guided us through the process. We hosted daily giveaways on Instagram and Facebook where the prizes were gift certificates to local restaurants. The giveaways gained attention pretty quickly, and soon we cumulated over 900 followers on our Instagram page, and over 200 likes on Facebook. Calgarians entered not only for a chance at winning a gift certificate but also to share their love for the businesses that enrich our communities.  

Alongside the very successful daily giveaways, we would also go out into the community and interview local businesses and publish them on our website. This was by far my favourite part of the campaign. I was quite familiar with many of the establishments we interviewed, but getting to interview and learn more about their stories made me appreciate all the hard work they had put into building up their businesses. Being able to write up their stories in a way that was able to capture their spirit and love for what they do was truly a special experience for me. I hope that I’ll be able to do more of it in the future!

#AddOilYYC really helped me connect further with the community that I had been volunteering with for so long. I also got to connect with new people who were eager to support their fellow community members. This experience is still very special to me because it allowed me to look behind the scenes of some of these businesses and see what makes Calgary such a vibrant and colourful place that I’m proud to call home.



Next. Symposium Thank You!

Published: Oct 18, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

We held a symposium, and it was fantastic. A huge thank you to all the speakers! They were all truly brilliant and inspired in so many ways. Something is so magical about gathering people in community from across the country (and Scotland). If you have a chance to connect with any of these people or hear any of them speak, please do! Make sure to check out all the awesome work they are doing. Deepest gratitude to all of these humans:

Danielle (Volunteer Connections

Debbie (Volunteer Scotland)

Candice (Ontario Non-Profit Network)

April (Helping Hands Cochrane)

Alina (Vantage Point)

Katie (Community Foundation of Nova Scotia)

Aditi (Pillar Non-Profit Network)

Corrina (Volunteer Connect York Region)

Turlough (Winspear Centre

 The ideas were so fast and furious! If you missed us and you want to engage in conversation, we are gathering again on November 8 at 11:00 MST. Email us for the invite



Let them eat pie

Published: Oct 11, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

One of our favourite topics is volunteer recognition. How to make sure the humans who are giving one of the most valuable resources (time) feel seen and valued? There are lots of great stories out there. So many organizations that have found a way of acknowledging the people aligned with their causes in a way that matters! Since it is the season for Fall Fairs, it seems apt to share one such example. For those unfamiliar Agricultural Fairs, they take an enormous amount of work, from the exhibitors to the entries to all the 4-H kids and their animals. It is the sort of the event that the planning for the next one starts the week after this year’s event ends. There are a lot of people who make these events happen and not just on the 2-4 days of the event itself, there is set up and takedown. The end tends to be especially onerous as everyone is fatigued from the weeks leading up. So how does one ensure that you have enough helpful hands show up at the end? You offer for lunch a collection of the prize-winning pies of course. There is something deeper than a pie dish at work in this approach that should be acknowledged. It is giving people the chance to gather and spend time in community with each other. It provides the opportunity for connection that so many people are seeking. If you want to chat more about honouring the time that people give to a cause send us an email. 


From Zookeeper To Center Stage: A Tale Of A Boy's Journey Into Acting

Published: Oct 4, 2023 @ 10:20 AM

Every year, the Calgary Zoo opens its gates to thousands of visitors eager to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom. However, there's more to the Calgary Zoo than meets the eye. This is the story of a young boy whose journey as a volunteer at the zoo led him down a path to discover his love for acting.

Meet young Jeff, an enthusiastic and curious boy with a heart full of wonder. He was always fascinated by animals, their behaviors, and the stories that unfolded within the zoo's enclosures. Being born and raised in Calgary, Jeff had frequented the zoo since he was a toddler, accompanied by his parents who shared his love for nature and wildlife (read: wanted to shut their talkative little tyke up).

One summer, when Jeff was twelve, he learned about the Calgary Zoo's "Boo at the Zoo" event. It was an annual Halloween celebration where the zoo transformed into a magical, spooky wonderland, complete with costumed characters, pumpkin decorations, and eerie lighting. What intrigued Jeff the most was that the zoo was looking for volunteers to participate in this event. It was an opportunity he couldn't resist.

With youthful enthusiasm, Jeff eagerly signed up to volunteer for "Boo at the Zoo." Lo and behold he even got selected to promote the event on Calgary 2&7’s morning show. Little did he know that this decision to sign up for Boo at the Zoo would be the catalyst for a lifelong passion. As a volunteer, Jeff was assigned various roles, from helping with decorations to guiding visitors through the eerie exhibits. However, his favorite role was playing a friendly, animated scarecrow in the Enchanted Pumpkin Patch.

Dressed in a raggedy costume with straw poking out in all directions, Jeff spent hours interacting with young visitors, telling spooky stories, and helping them feel at ease in what could otherwise be a frightening environment. He quickly discovered that he had a natural flair for storytelling and engaging with people. Parents and children alike were captivated by his charismatic performances. It was during those magical nights at the zoo that something clicked inside Jeff’s heart – he had fallen in love with acting.

As autumn faded into winter, Jeff’s passion for acting continued to burn brightly. Inspired by his experiences at the zoo, he decided to audition for his school's mainstage play. After performing a monologue from the movie Good Will Hunting (“it’s not your fault”) Jeff was cast as one of the leads. His confidence and storytelling skills, honed during his volunteer work, served him well, and he turned in an Oscar Worthy performance (just kidding more like a Gemini winning one). With every line he delivered and every emotion he conveyed; it was clear that Jeff was meant for the stage.

As Jeff’s involvement in acting grew, he found himself dedicating more and more of his time to the craft. He began taking improv classes and participating in local theater productions. His dedication didn't go unnoticed, and soon, he caught the eye of local theater directors who offered him opportunities in professional productions. The boy who had once donned a scarecrow costume at the zoo was now stepping into the spotlight, playing diverse roles and winning the hearts of audiences.

Jeff’s journey from a zoo volunteer to a budding actor was not without its challenges. The demands of school, rehearsals, and performances often left him exhausted. Balancing his studies with his passion for acting required immense dedication and time management. Yet, Jeff persevered, fueled by the love for his craft and the belief that his journey had just begun.

As Jeff’s acting career flourished, he continued to visit the Calgary Zoo with his young family, to show them the place where it all began. He felt a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities the zoo had provided him and the foundation it had laid for his love of storytelling and performance. He even had the chance to return to "Boo at the Zoo," this time as a guest performer, where he delighted in sharing his passion for acting with a new generation of zoo visitors.

Word of Jeff’s success as an actor spread throughout Calgary, and he became a local celebrity of sorts. His story served as an inspiration to young aspiring actors in the city, reminding them that dreams could be achieved through hard work, dedication, and a little bit of courage.

Jeff’s  ourney serves as a testament to the power of unexpected opportunities and the importance of following one's passion. What started as a simple desire to volunteer at the Calgary Zoo's Halloween event transformed into a lifelong love affair with acting. It is a reminder that sometimes, our true calling may be hiding in the most unexpected places.

As the years passed, Jeff’s acting career continued to soar, taking him to stages far beyond Calgary. Yet, he never forgot his humble beginnings as a scarecrow in the Enchanted Pumpkin Patch. Jeff’s story will forever be a part of the tapestry of the Calgary Zoo, where dreams are born, passions are kindled, and the extraordinary is just around the corner.



We have to do something.

Published: Sep 28, 2023 @ 12:00 PM




“Why don’t we do better, when we know better?”

“It is not enough to know;

It is not enough to care:

We have to do something!”

-Cindy Blackstock, Pathways to Reconciliation Conference 



Give One Day's Pay to support indigenous projects, movements, organizations and nations. 


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