Latest News | Empathy

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 



Empathy During COVID-19

Published: Apr 7, 2020 @ 7:26 PM


Thank you for all you do in community. I won’t say “these are trying/challenging times” because these times are . . . oh right, don’t say it.

Volunteering is Hope

One of my favourite shows, and one I’ve been binging lately is Star Trek. So I can’t help thinking “What if the world were like Star Trek?” What do you mean, the part about flying through space? Nope, the part about humans doing whatever they can to explore and extend their capacity to care. Well, we are seeing that right now all over the place!

How do I know? Well, we have seen the interest on VolunteerConnector double each week in the last few weeks. People want to help one another. This is such a great story of how we all respond as neighbours in our moments of crisis and need. It gives me hope that we are ever moving closer to a truly empathetic society, possibly the promise of Star Trek. (I know there’s lots to leave on the cutting room floor, like story lines that drag on!)

So What? What can people who engage volunteers do?

The only answer is adapt. Organizations aren’t anything without the people in them, so look after yourself and your team. There’s lots of wisdom out there to help you make good choices. Especially the stuff about staying home for non-essential workers. If you’re thinking about engaging your volunteer team, and possibly even expanding it right now, this requires an adaptation. We suggest doing three things:

  • Take account of your needs to recruit and get the message out there with a post on the VolunteerConnector. Maybe you are still requiring a new board member for that postponed AGM. Really focus on the needs right now and try not to feel pressure to create busy work for volunteers. We wouldn’t want to accidentally encourage people to be breaking physical distancing guidelines.
  • Think about your experience in working from home. You’re trusted with access to files and email address and all sorts of thing. So many people at home have capacity to help and want to. Can we extend the systems that are currently working for us paid humans to those we trust to volunteer?
  • Do you see a lot of informal volunteer movements? Feel free to post the opportunity on VolunteerConnector to get an extra helping hand. If you can’t do it then simply forward this to that self organizing effort, or tag us @volunteercal so we can help spread the word.


Do you find yourself needing to be more organized with your front line response? Your organization or community effort can always post for free on the VolunteerConnector to recruit. But did you know our scheduling and tracking tools are free during covid-19?

  • simply sign in,
  • click an UPGRADE button,
  • use the upgrade code "COVID19" to
  • start free scheduling and tracking features!

Please forward this message on to any of the community organizers out there so they can get connected to the tens of thousands of people who are ready to help. If they need support in getting connected then we are here to help at

Volunteering Teaches Empathy

I remember learning about empathy from Star Trek. Empathy is something only humans can provide. While the promise of the machines taking over is ever present (yes, I watch too much science fiction), we know that to have and deliver empathy is a human quality. It’s a great time to try to understand one another, and see the world from another’s perspective. I think our instinct to reach out and be neighbourly, to volunteer our time, is empathy in action. My Star Trek dreams may be a bit far-fetched, but a world where we all provide for each other is not and this crisis is proving that to me daily.