This week is National Volunteer Week. It’s a time to honour the outstanding work that volunteers across Canada have done in our communities. With more than 13 million volunteers across the country, according to Volunteer Canada, their work doesn’t go unnoticed.
What are the benefits to volunteering? People may volunteer for a range of reasons: to make a difference in people’s lives, to support a cause that is personally relevant to them, to meet cool people and learn cool things, or to gain valuable experience.
As one of the 13 million folks who dedicate their time to make a difference, I thought I’d share how I volunteer and why.
Canadian Cancer Society (CCS)
For starters, I’ve served on the organizing committee as Marketing and Communications Chair for the CCS’s Relay For Life in Richmond Hill, not to mention I was a Relay participant as well. Why? I’ve lost several family members, including my grandmother, to cancer. The sad truth is that, nowadays, there probably isn’t a family that hasn’t been touched by the disease in some way. And Relay For Life is a terrific fundraising event aimed at fighting cancer, celebrating survivors and remembering loved ones lost to the disease.
Canadian Stuttering Association (CSA)
As someone who stutters, stuttering is another issue that is personally relevant to me, which is why I’m a board member of the CSA. According to the Stuttering Foundation of America, about 68 million people worldwide stutter (which is one per cent of the global population) and I’m proud to be one of them. I used to be embarrassed about it; but now, I think having a speech impediment is something that makes me unique or interesting.
Dare I need to explain why I’m involved with another stuttering group? Stutter Social is an international online support group that uses Google+ Hangouts to connect folks who stutter worldwide. In addition to my work with the CSA, I also serve as Volunteer Communications Director and Host for Stutter Social. Besides being part of a cause that’s personally relevant to me, it’s also great to connect with others who stutter and share my experiences worldwide. Through Stutter Social, I’ve met people who stutter from the U.S., India, Australia, Croatia, England – you name it.
Believe it or not, the list goes on. I also serve as co-organizer and volunteer coordinator for PodCamp Toronto, Canada’s largest gathering of digital media professionals. Why? Simple. I love meeting people who share my digital interests. PodCamp, which is an unconference (meaning it’s a participant-driven event, unlike a regular conference), is a great opportunity to learn, to share and to be part of an amazing community.
Finally, as a member of the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/Toronto), I’ve volunteered for its annual awards ceremony, and written for the newsletter and blog. Again, I love connecting with fellow PR professionals in Toronto and being involved in an industry in which I love to work.
Some may ask me how I find the time to do all of this and how I balance it with my professional work. First of all, I work in communications and digital media, and do quite a fair share of writing. So, I bring the skills I’ve gained into my volunteering endeavours. Prioritizing and time management is key. Plus, I’m passionate for every organization and cause for which I volunteer. It’s all about finding time to do the things you love.
Do you volunteer? If so, where and what are your motivations? Please share your thoughts!