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Hockey Culture and Sexual Abuse

Published: May 20, 2024 @ 11:04 AM

What is happening, and what can we do about it?

Every Canadian grows up surrounded by hockey. It’s a pillar of culture and pride in our nation. As a country that boasts some of the longest and coldest winters on the planet, the sport is a bright spot nationally and globally. Frozen ponds and community rinks are home to rites of passage like lacing up for the first time, pushing a chair across the ice, and the inevitable bumps and bruises that follow. 

But what happens when the pride of our beloved pastime is marred by a culture that perpetuates sexual assault and protects the abusers? The problem lies in multiple areas: a legal system that doesn’t support victims—especially women, a locker room culture that ignores unhealthy behaviors and hazing, and inept leadership at the highest levels of Hockey Canada. It seems we can't go a few months without hearing of a new case, and these terrible accounts of assault are beginning to overshadow any gold medal or championship. All eyes will be on the reopened 2018 sexual assault case involving five Canadian hockey players as London Police have committed to justice and reform.

It can be easy to feel helpless when you see continued injustice committed against women and young players. Part of the solution is to help lobby for change. Take the initiative to raise awareness and inform your local and national representatives that this issue matters. You can act by providing support for organizations that are helping those affected by sexual abuse. We must not wait on the sidelines for change but advocate for those affected by sexual abuse, work to prevent it, and reassess the systems perpetuating it. Several organizations in Calgary are striving to support victims of sexual abuse and provide education and awareness. You can volunteer or donate to these organizations to help make a difference.

Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, or CCASA, aims to educate and provide support for individuals affected by sexual harassment and abuse. They have been working in the space for 25 years and are always looking for volunteers to help spread awareness of their work. They also provide extensive training for volunteers on their support and information line.

Salal Sexual Violence Support Center has a 24-hour crisis and support line; they provide services to walk alongside those affected by sexual abuse, including counseling and court accompaniment. You can volunteer at fundraisers, at the crisis line, and with operations around the office.

CoSA Canada is actively advocating for legislative reform and working to provide research-based restorative justice programs. Their research shows that the chances of a second offense can be reduced by up to 80% with proper systems in place. Not only are they actively seeking volunteers, but they are also providing training for those who want to help in this space.

Little Warriors provides a safe space for children and youth who have been affected by sexual abuse. They focus on raising awareness through education, workshops, and research, as well as programs and treatment facilities to support those directly affected by trauma. They always look for donations to keep their programs running and volunteers to help run workshops and provide education.

All these organizations share the need to champion awareness and education. We must hold bodies like Hockey Canada, our lawmakers, and the police force accountable., It is equally imperative that we educate ourselves, our communities, and our children. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, all these organizations listed have someone you can reach out to for help. You can call 911 for emergencies or the non-emergency line (in Calgary) at 403-266-1234 to report sexual abuse.

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It All Began With a Cat!

Published: May 15, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome Gomathi Sridevi. Gomathi is an aspiring writer with a background in Journalism and a degree in Sociology. Her fascination with societal issues and a desire to articulate thoughts led her to pursue writing. Nurtured by a childhood habit of avidly reading newspapers, she found herself drawn to the world of storytelling. She is commited to exploring the depths of human experience and advocating for social justice as she continues to wield the power of words to inspire, inform, and empower others. 

The lingering fear from a childhood incident, a traumatic encounter with a dog while learning to ride a bicycle, had deeply influenced my relationship with animals. But, one unexpected event shook me out of my usual avoidance.  I was drawn in by a kitten's pitiful cries and decided to look into it. What awaited me was a heart-wrenching sight: a mother and father cat, visibly distressed, desperately attempting to reach their trapped kitten inside a water pipe. Despite my fear, I couldn't stand idly by while these animals suffered. The layout of our two-story house posed challenges in pinpointing the kitten's exact location within the water pipe. Driven by a sense of urgency, I attempted to dislodge the kitten by directing a stream of water into the pipe. However, my parents intervened, wisely cautioning against potential harm. My heart clenched as I listened to the kitten's plaintive cries echoing from within the pipe. I could feel its fear and isolation in the darkness, contrasting sharply with the comforting sounds of its parents' mewls outside, seeking to offer solace. With a professional plumber's assistance, we carefully dismantled the pipe, revealing the frightened kitten trapped in a corner. At that moment, as I reached out to comfort the trembling creature, something within me shifted. Despite my lifelong fear of animals, I felt an unexpected surge of connection. 

As I extended my index finger through the hole, my heart clenched at the sight of the trembling kitten, feeling its tiny paws grasp onto my finger tightly for comfort. I gently lifted it out and tenderly dried it with a cloth before reuniting it with its parents. A surge of emotion overwhelmed me when I caught the gaze of the larger cat as if it were expressing gratitude before turning away with its kitten. Whether it was my imagination or not, I sensed a silent acknowledgement in those expressive eyes.

The satisfaction I derived from aiding this tiny being ignited a desire within me to extend my assistance to others in need. It wasn't merely about helping animals find their way back home; it was about offering solace and support to any living being that had lost its path. With a heart now open to the possibility of making a difference, I embarked on a journey of compassion, seeking out opportunities to lend a helping hand wherever it was needed. Whether it was comforting a frightened animal, offering aid to a struggling neighbour, or championing causes dear to my heart, I found fulfilment in acts of kindness, both big and small. In the simple act of rescuing a kitten, I discovered a profound truth: that the greatest reward lies not in receiving, but in giving. As I continued on this path of compassion, my heart beat with a newfound sense of purpose, guiding me toward a life filled with empathy, understanding, and boundless love for all living beings.

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Fix-It

Published: May 9, 2024 @ 6:00 PM

The humans involved in VolunteerConnector have over one hundred years’ experience in the charitable sector. We have seen a lot and heard about a lot over the years. Something quite delightful and fun came through our world and we thought we might share it! 

Fix-It Fair! Not just a catchy name but a delightful combination of community groups, humans with talents to offer and vital community resources all in one place. We love the idea of individuals being brought together and connected with community. The premise seems to be pretty flexible, essentially there is a group of people who have varied talents for ‘fixing’ things…small electronics, bikes, websites…the applications seem endless, there is also group of humans who have some knowledge to share; local historian, passionate gardener…again endless opportunity and those groups come together with vital community resources like family support centres, emergency services, social services to provide a fulsome full day of community connection and learning all in one place. 

We have found a couple across the country- Bowen Island and Kimberley. It seems like such an awesome way to bring people together and foster community! So if the sun is shining in your world and you are looking for an opportunity to bring people in your community together maybe this will inspire you! Be sure to let us know how it goes! 

 

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It's All About the Glimmers

Published: Apr 18, 2024 @ 11:23 AM

It surprises me that every year that the blog on National Volunteer Week always feels like one of the hardest to write. It is likely a combination of things…social media already feels bombarded with ‘thank you volunteers’ imagery and paragraphs of gratitude. People who work in the volunteer world are often busy with events. It could also be the intersection of labour and volunteerism where this feels like a week where we use a monetary value to try to convince the world of the value of that humans provide in their communities, which frankly feels weird. The world in National Volunteer Week 2024 also feels heavy; genocides, climate change, profound issues of justice, capitalism…yikes.

And yet we keep going. And trying. And there are glimmers every day that empathy and goodness are everywhere. Here are some glimmers this week. 
The Haida Nation has their title officially recognized to their more than 200 island territory. The draft is expected to be finalized by the end of the month, it is the right thing, and the full story can be read here. 

The Widget/API is live! For those on our contact list and Regional Partners got an insider scoop but our much-anticipated widget is live. We know that volunteerism lives in lots of different places across Canada and you can now share volunteerism in your corner of the internet. This is a result of years of work and input from many people across the country. It offers a wonderful hyper local option and makes life easier for people wanting to engage in community. If you want to see what it looks like in use, check out the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce. Get in touch if you need help or have questions!

The Tortured Poets Department is coming out. A new album from Taylor for a bunch of Swifties feels like a great way to end the week! Stay tuned for lyric easter eggs in future blogs because they will be there. It’s us, we are the problem :)

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2023 AGM - June 12, 2024

Published: Apr 9, 2024 @ 9:07 AM

Our 2023 AGM is coming up on June 12, 2024. Join us as it will include:

  • A brief business meeting
  • A presentation of the year in review
  • A discussion on how to use our/your data to support volunteer recruitment to your cause

See you all there: REGISTER

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Creativity for a Cause

Published: Apr 3, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

This week we welcome guest writer Pallavi Paul. Pallavi moved to Vancouver to complete an MBA and now calls it home. She has an intense interest in digital marketing and creating content. When not pursuing that interest, she can be found hiking, swimming, dancing and exploring the outdoors. 

I've always wanted to help those who require direction and inspiration to live their lives and see the bright side of any situation. In my previous role as a volunteer in social media marketing at Low Entropy, I had the chance to use my creative side to enhance online platforms while also bringing attention to mental health issues. I was a student at that time when I joined Low entropy so my focus was more on studies and working in a volunteering organization where I would learn to hone my marketing skills in social media platforms.

As this was my first-time volunteering, I realized how crucial it is to address certain issues in a community and work on it for a greater purpose.

 A few points I would like to highlight in my volunteer journey, even though it was a short one, I cherished the learnings I have acquired from it.

1.      Confidence: I gained a lot of confidence in working independently. It’s an essential skill that will help me in a work environment as I don’t have to rely on someone to give me the instructions. It takes time to develop confidence and volunteering is a great place to start with.

2.      Time management: I was always attentive to my time management skill and juggling between studies, part time work and volunteering helped me to stay focused. My ability to be organized and productive at work also helped.

3.      Attentive to audience needs: The best part that happened to me is I became more aware of the audience while writing content or posting in social media. It’s a great way to showcase my creativity and think from people’s perspective instead of focusing on myself. 

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Never Enough- Five Years of Meals on Wheels Volunteer Shortages

Published: Mar 27, 2024 @ 6:00 AM

Volunteer Toronto has launched their much-anticipated Research Report: Never Enough, Five Years of Meals on Wheels Volunteer Shortages. Huge congratulations to Kasandra and the whole team at Volunteer Toronto for putting this together such enormous energy and effort to produce!

You should read the whole report, we wanted to highlight some things we thought were interesting. 

This report is such a cool discussion on intersectionality. The first layer being the humans requiring the services of Meals on Wheels and the various identities that they hold in our community. The labour that we put on these humans to access the supports they need to have quality of life is wild and undoubtedly exhausting. The other layer of intersectionality we found interesting was the weaving of the broad issue of food security, the world event of the Covid-19 pandemic and how those two issues collide with grassroots organizing, mutual aid and formal existing non-profits. There is such a layered story there and it is cool to examine how it has looked in a particular place at a particular time. 

Another aspect of the report that stuck out to us was using demographic data to potentially identify the “Ideal” Meals on Wheels volunteer and concluding that does not exist at the quantity needed to fill the need in community. It is cool to think about organizations applying this process when thinking about their own volunteer engagement and formulating opportunities. Furthermore, using that lens when deciding how reasonable it is to continue struggling in their volunteer recruitment. It seems like another strategy to tackle the shift in volunteerism. 

Finally, very helpful to return to a story five years later. We often see data come and go, highlights or trending topics pop up. Volunteer Toronto initially studied Meals on Wheels volunteer recruitment struggles in 2018, tried some interventions and supports and now in 2024 are revisiting. Certainly, gives weight to the recommendations that Volunteer Toronto has laid out. 

Thanks again for all your awesome work in the land of volunteerism Volunteer Toronto! 

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Give Them Something to Talk About

Published: Mar 19, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

“I had the best time!”, I learned so much”, “I met some cool people”. We have been hosting guest writers on our blog for a couple years now and one thing is for certain when people have a positive experience volunteering with an organization, they want to talk about it. These experiences have ranged from one-time events to longer relationships with an organization. We do not have data around the ripple that this causes for an organization or community, but it sure does make a person curious. Does this positive experience cause a person to donate? Does this cause other in their network to volunteer for the same organization or cause? Does it open the door for someone’s own volunteering story? Does it create a sense of community belonging that then shows up in other spaces? The data shows that word of mouth has significant impact on people’s behaviour in terms of consumerism so it does not seem like a far reach to think it can also impact an organization volunteer program. If we take the advice from the product and brand world and try to apply it to volunteerism here are some tips to utilize word of mouth in promoting volunteerism.

-Make sure volunteers feel connected. This can be through whatever means works for the culture of the organization- text, WhatsApp, Email, newsletter, live human moments etc. Listen to what they have to say. 

-Ensure volunteers are in the loop about all the things the organization is up to. The special events, the fundraisers, the meetings, the accomplishments. 

-Let people know when you are looking to engage more humans in your organization. Encourage them to share all the things with the people in their lives. 

-Give all the humans who are engaging with your organization a fantastic reason to talk about the their experience by making it a good one. 

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National Volunteer Week 2024

Published: Mar 13, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

Volunteer Canada has launched their 2024 National Volunteer Week Toolkit. Hooray!

 The theme of the week is #EveryMomentMatters. It contains free resources, social media images and all the things! There is a zoom background and some editable canva pieces as well which could be helpful for your organization. They have also shared a bunch of printable things like cards and certificates. You can check it all out here on the Volunteer Canada site. 

If you are looking for some additional support around recognition we are happy to chat, we also created this little gem last year Volunteer Celebration Worksheet to help capture the thoughts and feeling of the humans who are giving their time to your organization. 

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Pink Shirt Day

Published: Mar 6, 2024 @ 12:00 PM

In honour of Pink Shirt Day last week, we thought it apt to discuss some ideas on ways to be engaged in advocacy in your community. The action that goes along with wearing the pink shirt! To extrapolate from this George W. Bush quote “America needs more than taxpayers, spectators, and occasional voters. America needs full-time citizens.” (Commencement address at Ohio State University, June 2002). The same is true for the communities across Canada voting is great but so is collective action, political involvement, community service and social change. These do not need to be extraordinary acts, in fact they probably should be the opposite, small actions that influence others to take similar small actions. In doing so we create sustainable shifts, stronger understanding and more empathy. Malcolm Gladwell has a great podcast episode about this very thing, where he breaks down that great feats of humanity are not singular heroic actions but small acts of grace that add together. 

Here are a couple small things that will take less than ten minutes to make our communities better spaces for everyone: 

Sign a petition. 

Donate to a cause you care about (the charitable sector is responsible for so much in our society, they appreciate it)

Interrogate the things that have always been done (if you hold space on a board much of the systems were probably not designed for the humans on the outer circles of the wheel of privilege)

Say nice things to people (our brains are programed to need to hear the good stuff 10x more for it to stick)

Write a letter to the editor (in support of something or in objection to something you’ve read)

Amplify something on social media (use your sphere of influence to stand for a cause)

Say the quiet thing out loud (keep yourself safe but it is hugely powerful when we call on our fellow humans to be accountable). 

Be a good neighbour (you know what that means for you)

Buy a meal or beverage for a person who needs it 

Wear your advocacy (choose clothing that has a message, have a sticker on your water bottle that demonstrates your beliefs. You never know who might see it and feel seen.) 

Write to your elected officials about all the things (you might get a form response but just learned these humans must keep account of their correspondences so many interactions on the same topic matters come election time.) 

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