Latest News | Empathy

Lay Some Patio Stones

Published: Sep 5, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

This picture is from my local pharmacy and believe it or not when I saw it, I immediately thought of volunteer engagement. This is going to be a roundabout tale, hold on! This spot is in an odd place, there is not a clear way to get there if you are walking. The parking lot is often jammed and so people park across the street and walk over. It is a confusing intersection not far up from a stoplight and the people travelling left actually have the right of way, plus there is a grocery store, daycare and a church. Mad times in urban planning! My takeaway from this image is that someone made a choice, acknowledged how people moved through this space and went with it, in fact made it easier for everyone to get where they wanted to go. They did not hold onto the idea that there is a sidewalk close by, they did not plant bigger shrubbery or something with thorns to try and deter people. So now you know the lay the of the land, what could this possibly have to do with volunteer engagement? It is about acknowledging the truth. 

 Sometimes we hear from people that they are having trouble recruiting volunteers, that they have had these roles for the past 15-20 years and they can’t seem to find any person interested in them now. That is a tough situation to be in for sure, but there is a choice. As an organization you can continue to struggle and suffer, you can try to force people through the thorny, tall shrubbery as it were, or you can lay out some patio stones! There is space for reimaging everything, nothing needs to look like it did before. It is hard work for sure and work that takes time but worth doing if you want to continue to engage volunteers in the work that you are doing. If this post is resonating with you and you want to talk it through just give us an email we would love to catch up. 


Great Work!

Published: Aug 11, 2023 @ 10:59 AM

We like to shout out people doing cool and interesting work in the community! 

Gore Park Community Outreach began in the pandemic and has continued to offer vital services to the community members of Hamilton. They have built collaboration as they’ve grown and continue to centre the people they are trying to help. 

The lakes across the province of British Columbia are being monitored by awesome people. They are tracking changes and raising flags to protect the lakes. Learn more about them here. 


National Indigenous People's Day

Published: Jun 22, 2023 @ 2:33 PM

Yesterday was National Indigenous People’s Day and was there every celebration to be had! This is the view I had the privilege of taking in from the home of the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc people, the Akisqnuk First Nation, Shuswap Band the chosen home of the Columbia Valley Metis. What is not captured in this picture if the joy and energy of the day. The beautiful bead work, the awesome talents of the hoop dancers, the delicious smell of NDN tacos and the sounds of laughter. The vibrancy, resiliency and life force that felt very special to be a part of.

Yesterday was also a time of reflection for those of us working on being accomplices. Acknowledging that this work is generational, but it is constant and requires vigilance in all aspects of our lives and work. We are holding these words by Nikki Silvestri close to our hearts as we enter the summer season of growth and respite. 

“Look at the places you withhold the truth. That’s where you contribute to our world staying as it is. That’s the nonlinear nature of how culture shapes socio-economics. If you’re tolerating that person you need to fire; if you’re allowing that toxic relationship dynamic to go unchecked; if you’re procrastinating on a necessary hard decision. 
Complicity in one area of life, in the micro, echoes complicity in the macro. Racism exists because our collective micro complicities snowball into societal complicities.” - Nikki Silvestri (Soil & Shadow).                                                        

Finally, if you have the means to share wealth, please check out The Feast House. 


Happy Pride!

Published: Jun 16, 2023 @ 2:25 PM

Happy Pride!!!

We are very excited to celebrate Pride with all organizations! Some ideas of things to do this month and every month! 

Give your time to organizations that align with this cause (use the LGBTQIS2+) filter on VolunteerConnector)

Give your money to organizations like the Rainbow Railroad that help people get to safety.

Learn about the history of Canada through this interactive map

Search 'pride' on google, trust is a fun time.

Attend all the awesome events happening across the country and celebrate! 



World Refugee Day

Published: May 30, 2023 @ 6:00 PM

World Refugee Day falls on June 20 each year and celebrates the strength and courage of those who have had to flee their home country to escape. The theme of this year is “compassion and hopes to create a world where everyone can be more connected by being compassionate towards others.”

Our friends at CLIP have created an easy way to support this cause through messages of hope.

If you are in Calgary and have a spare couple of minutes this week then fill this out and send it to CLIP. If you are reading this from somewhere then check out The UN Refugee Agency list of events



Thank You!

Published: Apr 21, 2023 @ 6:00 AM

In celebration of National Volunteer Week I had this great idea of visually displaying the thousands and thousands of different roles that humans have connected with over the past year via VolunteerConnector. Alas, it turns out that a 100 page pdf is pretty hard to condense in a way that is not just a black void so here we are, a bejewelled valentine of sorts as a deep and heartfelt acknowledgement (with a couple of those volunteer roles inside the heart).

To the people who wake up in the morning and think about someone else, to the person who wakes up and sees a gap in their community and tries to fill it, a person who speaks out at town council on causes they care about, the person who manages social media for the group that does not really know about this space, the person who hears a neighbour has a bunch of sick kids and leaves some muffins, the people that use their skills on boards, the people who share their community stories, the list goes on and on. You not only make people’s lives better, you make our communities places of comfort and belonging, you make other people want to keep going, you create places and spaces where people feel safe. So from our hearts- thank you. Profoundly thank you for being the reason we get to exist. Thank you for believing that changing our world is possible. Thank you for trying. 



Honouring The Whole Volunteer

Published: Oct 12, 2022 @ 9:41 AM

Between the booming metropolis of Toronto and the Las Vegas of Canada, Niagara Falls, lies the city of Hamilton, within that city is Mohawk College and let me tell you they are doing some very cool things within their volunteer program! We had the pleasure of chatting with the Student Life Team there to learn more about post-secondary volunteerism.

Their volunteer program is based around 'honouring the whole student'. Curious about what that looks like in practice? It first starts with acknowledging the volunteer is a whole human, not just a heartbeat that fulfills a task. After that it's about ensuring their basic needs as a human are met so that they are free to volunteer, that looks different for every human but most common for the student population is food and transportation. Students cannot think about volunteering if they are hungry, worried about how they are going to eat in the coming week. Transportation is costly and margins are increasingly tighter for everyone, students are the same. We talk a lot about removing barrier for volunteers but this is deeper, this is about acknowledging the basic inequities that prevent people from even thinking about incorporating volunteerism into their life.

So many organizations are run completely by volunteers, so much connection and good work happens through those volunteer spaces but I guess this is also a call to look at the person across the table in those meeting or in the zoom box and consider how we are taking care of each other. 

We will certainly be thinking about how to honour the whole volunteer in the next position we recruit for. 



This Friday

Published: Sep 29, 2022 @ 10:35 AM

We had the pleasure last week of presenting at the Alberta Museum's Association virtual conference where we talked about where we currently stand in our Anti-Racism journey as white settlers working in a colonial sector. We had been supported by Moyo ( around the importance of sharing stories, struggles and learnings. To be honest, and to build community through that honesty and vulnerability. It seems timely then to share what one of us will be doing this Friday, there are plenty of event lists and resources online; Google is your place for that and certainly everyone should feel free to spend the day how they need or want. We as a team will certainly be spending it in varied ways ...

We are a shift working household, my partner will be wearing an orange shirt into their workplace. 

I will be spending time in nature with my daughter, niece and nephew. We are planning to read Shi-shi-etko by: Nicola I. Campbell to them. My sister owns a chunk of land in Alberta as a direct result of intergenerational wealth built in our family due to our white grandparents who came to Canada from the Netherlands and Ireland respectively. As adults, we will be reflecting on the profound impact that intergenerational trauma has on the day-to-day existence of all of us in the communities we live and work in. 

Is it enough? It certainly does not feel like it. The work continues on Saturday. 



Volunteer With A New Community

Published: Aug 30, 2022 @ 2:44 PM

We have been very excited to welcome some international/national events to VolunteerConnector recently (shout out to World Dodgeball Federation)

It made us think about two things:

For Organizations - it is easy to recruit from anywhere for anywhere, most important thing to remember is the power of the postal code! When you create a posting, scroll down to the section entitled 'Activity Location' if you need humans to be in a physical location this is where you want to put that location's postal code. So if you are in the comfort of your home in 'B2R 1A3' but you are hosting the Shanty Festival in 'V8K 1G8'. All you need to do is make sure that postal code section is filled out with the location of the event. 

For Volunteers - it is a weird summer, feels like people are prioritizing rest and respite over their normal commitments which is great, it is how it should be. Perhaps you have been a regular rodeo volunteer in your town but this year you are taking a break. Maybe choose a destination based on an event somewhere in Canada ... volunteer for a morning and then explore for the rest of the long weekend. Labour Day weekend is coming up, so many things going on around the country and most of those things rely on volunteers! Use volunteerism as a reason to go explore somewhere you have never been before. 



Don't Be Scared Of Volunteers

Published: Jul 19, 2022 @ 9:38 AM

This summer marks the return of lots of events, very exciting!

The Tall Ships Festival is back in Brockville (,

Outhouse Races are back in Cochrane (,

And ... everything else seems to be returning to towns and cities across the country. The commonality in these events that we all get to enjoy going back to is - volunteers. They are organized by volunteers, facilitated by volunteers and taken down by volunteers. There is often one volunteer or a committee of them tasked with organizing all the other volunteers- what an awesome role! Here are some things to keep in mind:

People are craving community - our latest research says people are looking for quality time together with other people so it's more about that than maybe fulfilling a specific role or sharing a skill set. This season of volunteerism is about reconnecting with the world not just about the job that needs to get done. Something to consider when you get to the perks of volunteering section of your posting. 

Your community is full of prospective volunteers - the past couple of years has seen tremendous change and transition. Many people have made physical moves into new and smaller communities, many others have made the transition into less commute time. Bottom line - a whole bunch of prospective people who have never been involved before. We know people move into new places and google - "volunteer in ______" so if you have an opportunity to be the place that shows up for people desiring to belonging seems like that would be a great plan! Plus it prevents burn out for those people who have been involved year after year, and means you don't have to call in favours with friends for that last minute shift.

We are always happy to help - if you are struggling to recruit volunteers for your event send us an email! We will happily review your posting and offer our insights