Editorial: Volunteers, thank you!

It’s National Volunteer Week this week! Specifically, it runs from April 23 to April 29, putting us smack dab in the centre as this issue hits the stands.

And, before you start thinking this is a volunteer recruitment piece, let’s be clear that it’s definitely not. There’s no pressure here. Seriously.

Volunteer.

Reading that word, what picture or feeling did it bring up for you? Was it positive or negative?

The word volunteer can be used as a noun or a verb and, like its versatile grammatical nature, it can also trigger different connotations for different people. Some see volunteers and volunteering in a positive light – selfless, wonderful, giving people who devote their time and energy to various causes, people, or communities. Others may see it as a negative: something people feel forced to do, and when they don’t, feel judged and guilty for not giving enough.

These are the extremes. But, instead of jumping on one end of the bandwagon or the other, why not land somewhere in the middle? Balance is always good, if not always easy to attain.

What would balance look like?

All volunteers are valuable and all volunteer actions are usually appreciated, small to large, and occasional to regular.

A neighbour pops by to shovel a driveway. It may not seem like a “volunteer” activity, but it is. It’s not formal. It’s not necessarily something that gets repeated. It is something that was done voluntarily for the good of someone else. That – the intention behind the action – all by itself is what characterizes a volunteer.

Does this distinction somehow detract from the amazing things “professional” volunteers do? “Professional” means someone who volunteers regularly for several different organized groups or charities.)

Absolutely not.

Our communities, our neighbours, and, sometimes, even “we” need a little help. There is room for and there is a need for all types of volunteers and volunteer activity.

Whether you volunteer a little or a lot, this week we want to say “Thank You” to every volunteer. You are appreciated!