Editorial: Volunteerism in need of more help

Communities are built by volunteers. That is especially true in small towns and rural areas like in South Dundas. Many of the amenities we enjoy in the community were built by, or are maintained by volunteers. Most of the recreation and sports programs in South Dundas are run by volunteers. And most of the events, festivities, and activities on our weekends, holidays, and special occasions are thanks to the work of volunteers. In recent years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a worrying trend when it comes to volunteerism in the community, and across Canada – fewer volunteers.

Statistics from Volunteer Canada and Statistics Canada show that 65 per cent of Canadian volunteer organizations struggle with a shortage of volunteers, and 35 per cent of those have had to reduce services. Those effects are felt from food banks to the baseball diamond.

In South Dundas, there is a large number of volunteer groups which is a credit to the work of the community in past years. Those groups however are suffering from declining volunteer numbers which has a double effect on their viability. Fewer volunteers means those who remain do more work – prompting the onset of burnout among existing volunteers. Many of the groups have an aging volunteer core. The same people have volunteered for many years and that can lead to stagnation within a group, and through natural attrition, fewer members.

At the beginning of each youth sport season, organizations call multiple times for help with coaching, officiating, or with managing a team or sport. Again, the lack of volunteers means those who remain are doing more just to keep things going.

It is an unfortunate trend because without volunteers – especially in communities like South Dundas – there would be nothing to do and many of our amenities would not exist. Have you enjoyed a nice walk along the Morrisburg Waterfront, or watched your child play soccer in Iroquois – volunteers were there to help make that possible. Did you celebrate the fall at Harvestfest, or see a power play goal win a hockey playoff series in the Morrisburg Arena – volunteers were also there to help make that possible. Was someone’s meal delivered through Meals for Wheels, or a local Cancer patient driven for treatment – volunteers were there to help make that possible too.

The community – our community – needs more people to get involved with volunteering in our service clubs, sports organizations, and activities. The activities and amenities that we have access to within South Dundas is a big selling feature of our rural living. It has become easy to just cut a cheque or send an e-transfer for a registration fee and expect that is all you need to do. Giving time – your time – to a cause/program/group that you support is immensely more valuable to that organization, and the community.

Without volunteers, much of what we enjoy in South Dundas would not be possible. Without more volunteers, we will see more disappearances. Please reach out and ask what you can do to help.

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