Latest News | Recent Posts


Black History Month

Published: Feb 8, 2023 @ 1:51 PM

February is Black History month. Our sector is colonial, influenced by white supremacy and capitalism. Like all sectors that are built on the backbone of these forms of oppression, Black people continue to face extreme forms of discrimination, prejudices, and racism. Many of the people that work in our sector are altruistic, but this is often lost due to the system that continues to be upheld.

It is important to acknowledge this month's focus and the turmoil Black people have experienced and continue to experience. Here are some steps we can take now and throughout the year to support the Black Community: 

Give Your Money

Donate to organizations that directly support Black people. Here is a list of a few to get you started:

  • Action Dignity - The B.L.A.C.K Project (Becoming Leaders Acquiring Critical Knowledge)
  • Black Environmental Initiative - environmental action for black and equity seeking communities
  • Canadian Voices Against Racism - a community of volunteers working to create a living database of police violence in Canada as a means to petition lawmakers to dismantle institutionalized racism, colonialism, and white supremacy within Canada’s governance
  • African Friendship Society - our approach is to intentionally combine the caring and nurturing essence of African cultures and traditions with history and social studies through traditional dances, stories, songs and music of Africa.

Spend Your Money at Black Owned Businesses

Check out the link below to find Black owned businesses is your community.

Continue Learning

Learn about Anti-Black Racism, but also learn about Black History and the Influence Black people have on our music, culture, and society. The talent and influence Black people have is often forgotten or ignored.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend Black led festivals and cultural events
  • Read books, listen to podcasts, and watch movies that are created by Black people
  • Listen to the music of Black Artists

Speak Up

Continue to say something when you see racist actions. The oppressive system can’t change over night, but even small steps can make a difference and improve the lives of Black people in our communities.

We are still learning. If you would like to talk to someone on our team about our antiracism journey and what we can do better, please reach out at info@volunteerconnector.org.

 

Permalink

I Wonder If There Are Any Places I Could Volunteer?

Published: Feb 1, 2023 @ 1:47 PM

We recently got this email to our inbox here at VolunteerConnector . . .

 

“Hello, I hope you are well 

My name is Tamara and I am a 13-year-old girl. I was wondering if there were any places I could volunteer at my age. I know that not many facilities let younger kids volunteer but if there were any that could work please let me know. 

If not would there possibly be anything/projects I could do to help out? Such as making or baking something or anything that could be used to help others. 

Thank you”

 

We thought it might be helpful to remind people we are always available if you need a little extra support in finding volunteer roles that are a good fit for you. There are humans who care a lot about community behind VolunteerConnector and there are also 150+ Volunteer Centres across the country so no matter where you are reading this from there is probably one close to you!

We should also share how we responded to Tamara in case you are like her and looking for a way to help in your community and not exactly sure what that could look like . . .

 

Hi Tamara, 

Thank you so much for your email! Very cool that you are looking for ways to get involved in your community. There are certainly some organizations that have age requirements for volunteers but there are many others that don’t. I have some more questions for you to help clarify what might be a good fit; do you want to volunteer in person or online? How much time do you have available to commit (do you want to volunteer once? Or have a monthly/weekly time?) Are there certain things that are interesting to you…you mentioned baking is there anything else? Is it important that you volunteer close to home or are you ok with going to a different area?  

Sometimes volunteerism does not have to be with an established organization it can also be doing awesome things in your community like adding food to Community Pantry, shovelling a neighbour’s sidewalk, bringing muffins to someone, chalking the sidewalk with positive messages…

Let me know your thoughts and I can send you some specific opportunities!

VolunteerConnector Team

 

There were a couple more emails back and forth, but we eventually used the ‘proximity’ and ‘youth’ filters on VolunteerConnector to find some opportunities that met her criteria and ta-da another human finding belonging in community!

 

Permalink

2023 The Year of Mental Hygiene

Published: Jan 27, 2023 @ 10:45 AM

We hosted the first guest in our new speaker series this past Tuesday! No need to fret if you missed it here are the resources that were shared for you to check out at your leisure. Thank you to Kristie Pshyk for her time and insights into pursuing wellness in 2023. She shared this quote from Adam Grant which can hopefully guide us all this year “Too many people wait until they're exhausted or depressed to make change or seek help. Mental health isn't something to put on the back burner. We can't keep good habits in storage until we need them. Mental hygiene should be as ingrained in our daily routine as dental hygiene.”

Emily Nagoski (book) 'Burnout; The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle'

Jamie Gruman (book) 'Boost; The Science of Recharging Yourself in an Age of Unrelenting Demands'

Kelly McGonigal (tedtalk) 'The Upside of Stress'

Mental Health Commission of Canada (mentalhealthcommission.ca)

  • The Working Mind
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • National Standard for Psychological Safety 

Canadian Mental Health Association (cmha.ca)

  • Recovery College 
  • Psychological Health and Safety Training 
  • Not Myself Today Campaign
  • Workplace Mental Health Programs/Training 

Wellness Works Canada (wellnessworkscanada.ca)

  • Workplace Wellness Certificate 
  • Webinars and Resources

 

Thanks again to Kristie for being such a great host and supporting all of us in our journeys!

 

Permalink

Time Is Money - Guest Blog

Published: Jan 25, 2023 @ 8:18 AM

Understanding the privilege of having more time

The saying ‘time is money’ has been around for ages. Benjamin Franklin popularized the term in his 18th-century essay “Advice to a Young Tradesmen.” Since then, there has increasingly been a shift in the mindset around time and how to spend it. In general, societal and technological advancements have given us more spare time. The question then becomes: how do we spend it? In the volunteering sector, we can go one step further and consider how one’s spare time compares to others.

Being aware of your privilege

Much of our view on privilege centers around money. Growing up without having to think about money is a privilege. If you grew up without worrying about where your next meal came from, that is a privilege. If you didn’t need to get a job to support your family as soon as you were old enough to work, that is also a privilege. If you can retire and live off a pension, investments, or savings, that is also a privilege. If time is money, we should consider having spare time a privilege.

All the time in the world

How do we gauge this privilege of time? You might get a different answer for every person you ask. But to get a general idea you can look at the American Time Use Study (2022). This study found that 96 percent of people aged 15 and over, spend an average of 5.25 hours a day on leisure activities. This includes things like exercise, watching TV, and socializing. Social media drives a lot of our modern culture. It's no surprise that the Canadians Internet Report (2022) reveals that on average, Canadians spend one hour and fifty-three minutes daily on various social media platforms. The purpose of highlighting these statistics is not to shame anyone — leisure time is important. The purpose is to understand that in general, we have an excess of time for leisure. But that is not true for every person.

Volunteering is a privilege

In 2021, almost one million Canadians held two or more jobs (Statista 2021). The number of single-parent homes in Canada has risen to almost two million (Statista 2022). If you were to survey these families, a common theme you might find would be a lack of time. It's important to understand that when a person volunteers, they do so out of the privilege of having spare time. It is out of this privilege that individuals can give their time to local non-profits, schools their children attend, or religious institutions.

Volunteering with humility and purpose

Too often, volunteering is not only a way of doing good but to be seen as doing good. Volunteering can be a good thing. It can provide invaluable support to communities that lack certain resources, while also providing a sense of purpose or fulfillment to volunteers. What it should not be, is something that elevates your status over others. Specifically, those who do not have the privilege of time to volunteer similar hours, or volunteer at all.

Instead of thinking about how being a volunteer can serve you best, shift your mindset. How could you change your community if you sought out the most practical ways to serve it? How can you champion community initiatives that best support those without the privilege of extra time? Grocery delivery, meal-sharing, and after-school programs are all practical ways of giving people more time. Just something to think about when deciding how and where to serve. And remember — a little awareness and humility go a long way.

Guest Blogger

Nathan Ahamed

"Music, food, and technology each enable us to come together and find a sense of purpose, belonging, and identity. Through the written word and public speaking, it is my desire to build community and foster the deep desire we have to connect with each other."

 

Permalink

2023 Speaker Series! - Wellness For Staff & Volunteers

Published: Jan 19, 2023 @ 9:04 AM

VolunteerConnector is super jazzed to announce the launch of our 2023 Speaker Series! Over the course of the year we will gather with four different special guests each with a unique perspectives on volunteer engagement. It is a chance to learn, spend time with people doing similar work and receive insights to apply to yourself or the volunteer program you engage with.

 

First up on Tuesday, January 24 at 11:00 MST we welcome Kristie Pshyk! 

Kristie Pshyk is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and Organizational Well-being Professional. She has worked in the Corporate Wellness field for over 7 years and will cover:  

  • How to manage change and uncertainty in this "post" covid world
  • Practical tools to manage stress for yourself and your teams​
  • How to introduce the topic of mental health and the importance of psychological safety to your organization​
  • What is burnout and how do we prevent it? 
  • The loneliness epidemic and how to set up your support network​​

This interactive session will leave you inspired to take charge of your mental health and prioritize your wellbeing in 2023. 

Click here to register: 2023 Speaker Series - Registration

If you can't make this one, the next session will be April 26 at 11 MST 'Engaging the Post Secondary Student Volunteer' so mark that one in your calendar. Stay tuned for additional details!

 

Permalink

Be Kind To One Another

Published: Jan 11, 2023 @ 12:54 PM

The following is a true story that reminds us to Walk a Mile in another's shoes in order to eliminate judgement. 

The ladies worked their way through the racks of clothing, one looking for the perfect outfits, the other hanging back unsure. They chatted about colours and styles, and with her arms full, the gregarious one coordinated the outfits on the racks in the dressing room.

“We are ready”, she chimed. “I have put together the outfits and when you try them on I will help you determine how you can mix and match. Are you ready?”

“Before you judge my life, my past or my character. Walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain and my laughter. Remember everyone has a story. “ Susan R. Sharma

A smile crossed the quiet ladies face, and she looked at her new friend.

“ I guess I am ready”, she said. “ I am not so sure about the dresses. I really don’t look so great in dresses.”

“That is because you haven’t tried the right ones on. Just wait and see.”

“I think we have some perfect ones, and if that doesn’t turn out to be, then I will definitely find the right one. Don’t you worry, we have a lot to choose from”.

And with that she went into the dressing room to start trying things on. She came out with the first dress.

“Now look at that, it fits like a glove. “ said her gregarious new friend. “Have a look in the mirror”.

She stood in front of the mirror, and a smile started to spread across her face.

“Here, I have grabbed a gorgeous pair of shoes that would really work”. Not sure if they are your size, but give them a try.

She slipped the shoes on, and as her friend placed a necklace gently around her neck. She looked in the mirror again, and this time it was hard to contain the smile.

“I haven’t looked like this or felt this pretty in a long time”.

“Well sometimes you just need to see yourself through another’s eyes”. “Next outfit, this one is a keeper don’t you think?”

A small chuckle could be heard coming from the dressing room as she went to try the next outfit.

She tried on outfit after outfit, and each time she came out her shoulders were held a little steadier. Her eyes a little brighter, and the strain on her face a little less pronounced.

When they were done with all the work clothing, her new friend handed her a fancy dress. “Try this one on she exclaimed, it looks like it was made for you.”

“Oh but I have nowhere to wear that. “

“Don’t you worry, a girl needs a fancy dress in her closet for when the opportunity presents itself. “ “Just try it on, and you will see”.

The dress was elegant, the silky black material hung gracefully from the bodice. It flowed beautifully and ended just above the knee.

Her friend placed her in front of the mirror, see now how could you possibly live without this dress? It is perfect on you, as she placed a necklace on her.

“Wow, I must admit it is pretty beautiful, and not half bad on me, she chuckled.” She twirled a little on the way to the dressing room, perhaps it would be great for dancing”.

With that they both had a laugh. “Well I will package up all your things, when you have changed have a look at the handbags and I will meet you up front”.

She came back with a handbag of her choosing, and smiled at her new friend. “I seriously cannot thank you all enough, this is the nicest thing that has happened to me in a very long time. I had no idea how I was going to get the clothing for work”.

She was met with a hug, and well wishes. “You are going to look the part for your next interview that is for sure”.

“Can I help you out to your car?”

They grabbed the bags, and headed out to the car. Once the bags were placed in the trunk, she looked up with her eyes a little strained and said to her new friend. “I need you to know that I was you – once”. “I too had a family, I volunteered helping others and had a life”. “And then I went through a bitter divorce, and this is me now”. “I am so very grateful for your help”.

Their eyes locked, and the volunteer nodded. Then she grabbed her in an embrace, and said “good luck to you my friend.” Tears streamed down her face, as she watched her drive away.

As she walked back in the door, with tears in her eyes she was met with a hug and “Are you Okay?”

“I am more than okay, she said. This is why I come here, to remember that everyone has a story.” “It’s been a good day”.

 

Be Kind to one another. Remember to walk a mile in another's shoes. 

This is a true story that occurred at Making Changes – Dress for Success

Guest Blog by

Jacquie McCarroll 

 

 

Permalink

3 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Spirits Bright

Published: Dec 13, 2022 @ 2:38 PM

This time of year, can be all the feelings - joy, overwhelm, grief ... all at once and everything in-between. It can also be the time of year when the demands of 'giving' feel like they are at an all-time high. Our mail and local newspaper are full of asks and it is a lot. Here is a list of three things that you can do this holiday season that do not cost a thing and will warm your heart. 

1. Meet your neighbours 

  • We are a friendly bunch usually, but many Canadians do not actually know their neighbour; google puts this number between 30-50%. That is a big opportunity to expand your social sphere. These are people who we have friendly nodded at or quickly waved but here is your challenge to knock on the door and compliment some lights or offer a hot chocolate!

2. Go through your pantry 

  • This not an invitation to donate the things you do not like or are expired (In The News
  • This is very much an invitation to figure out where your local community free food cupboard or pantry is and replenish it with what you can. 

3. Think about how you will engage in community in 2023 

  • The opportunities are endless, from a formal role on a board that does the work you care about to being the person who steps up for your kid's sports team to creating space to show up in person at a protest to writing a letter to an elected official about the policy issues which are impacting you. Reflect on the time you have in the next year and be honest. If it is a hectic year maybe using your social media platform to amplify messages is your choice, maybe it is the year that you commit to monthly board meetings or maybe it is the year you are the organizer in the community and rally people to make change. 

We are all in this together! 

 

Permalink

Wakanda Forever - Guest Blog

Published: Dec 5, 2022 @ 2:09 PM

Our Heroes and Why Representation Matters

With Halloween fresh in the rear-view mirror, and Wakanda Forever taking over the box office, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about heroes. When I recall the painstaking process of choosing a Halloween costume as a kid, one issue sticks out: I had no clue what I wanted to be. Often I ended up dressing up as a chef (after my dad), a ninja, or a pirate. It was always something generic that could be easily thrown together. Looking back, I realize that a major contributing factor was not feeling that I looked like my favourite characters – Superman, Batman, or those in the Star Wars universe at the time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun to change this in a big way. With Black Panther, Shang Chi, and most recently Wakanda Forever, there now exists superheroes for Black, Chinese, and Mexican kids (and adults) to see themselves reflected in.

What does this have to do with volunteering? When I look back at the lack of representation on the big screen, I also am reminded of real-life heroes. Closer to home, other than my father, whenever there was someone to look up to, there was a lack of people who looked like me. To be clear, it’s not something I could have communicated to anyone at the time. Looking back, I realize that there was a lack of diversity in volunteers at the schools, community events, and churches I attended. When I think about the “role models” like policemen, firemen, or musicians who came to speak at a school assembly, I can’t recall a single person of colour among them. As an adult, I can now see the community around me lacked diversity. But as a child, you are often unable to choose the adults that surround you, and potentially influence you.

This is my experience. And I know I am not alone in this. Representation in volunteerism gives people—especially children—role models they can picture themselves being like. It provides an example of a person they can model themselves after. It gives them a hero—someone they can act like, someone they can dress like, and someone they can serve like. Proper representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) volunteers in communities will increase the likelihood of inspiring people of all ages to serve their communities. Representation in volunteering has the potential to support communities in organic service rather than traditional charitable or philanthropic efforts.

I did not live in communities with large numbers of BIPOC individuals growing up. Organizations must increase representation on every level and in every community because it's not just important for the BIPOC kid to see themselves reflected in a role model, but because it’s also imperative to seek diversity across communities to increase inclusion and social cohesion. It starts at the grassroots with volunteers and ensuring barriers for racialized individuals to participate are meaningfully addressed. Therefore, organizations must increase representation on every level, in every community—not just those with higher BIPOC populations. We must also set out to encourage people of colour to seek out places to serve and provide a positive influence for the next generation. Because in the end, everyone needs heroes.

Guest Blogger

Nathan Ahamed

"Music, food, and technology each enable us to come together and find a sense of purpose, belonging, and identity. Through the written word and public speaking, it is my desire to build community and foster the deep desire we have to connect with each other."

 

Permalink

Video: Creating A Volunteer Profile

Published: Dec 1, 2022 @ 2:46 PM

In this video we share how volunteers can create a profile in order to get the most from the Connector!

 

 

Permalink

Bridging the Gap - Helping Organizations Connect To Volunteers

Published: Nov 23, 2022 @ 2:15 PM

We continue to hear from organizations across the country that it is harder to find volunteers than ever before. However, as you can see from the image volunteerconnector.org continues to see growth in volunteer traffic.

Join us, December 14th @ 11:00-11:45 (mst),  for a conversation on why this could be happening and how volunteerconnector.org can help organizations overcome some of these challenges. This will be an informal conversational where we will share our thoughts and strategies, but will also look to you to bring yours.

Eventbrite - REGISTER FOR FREE.

 

Permalink

Older Posts