Making a difference

The Southern Alberta floods bear this fact out: it’s easier to recruit volunteers when a high profile event happens, such as downtown Calgary under water. Typically, volunteers are the ones who lead rescue and recovery efforts when disasters strike, so what is transpiring in Calgary and surrounding area is quite normal.
But tragedies aside, Statistics Canada reports volunteering hours are stagnating in Canada and only a very small proportion of volunteers do most of the work.
In fact, 10 per cent of volunteers accounted for 53 per cent of all the volunteer hours given in 2010.
We need volunteers year round.  They continue to be a powerful economic and social force in Canada. As more services are downloaded unto charities and not-for-profits, volunteers are becoming even more critical.
In April 2013, TD Economists, Craig Alexander and Sonya Gulati, reported that volunteering in Canada creates a minimum of $50 billion annually in economic value.
They said, “If the value of volunteer work were a company, it would be in the league of the largest firms in Canada listed in the S&P/TSX Composite Index, sandwiched between corporate giants like Suncor Energy and Canadian National Railway.”
An astounding statistic and to think that only 10 per cent provide 53 per cent of that total!
Many of those who volunteered in Calgary and Southern Alberta over the past two weeks have never volunteered before.  Let’s hope this new-found volunteerism will carry into other areas long after the media and hype is gone.
Canada needs givers, selfless people and servant hearts to turn the tide on “meism” and consumerism–trends that have hurt our moral fabric for far too many years.
Volunteers strengthen our communities and whether it is babysitting or shovelling snow for no pay, or working with a charity or local sports team, volunteers are the people who truly make our country a better place.

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