Community volunteers Jessica Brake and her mom Irene Baker attended the special breakfast Tuesday during National Volunteer Week.

Volunteerism keeps Red Deer community moving forward

Employers, schools looking at volunteer activity on resumes

Like mother, like daughter.

Jessica Brake and her mom Irene Baker are just two of the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers that to help make all the community events in Red Deer the successes they are. They were among a number of Red Deerians who attended a special breakfast on Tuesday morning honouring volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

Brake, 33, is on the planning committee for Social Media Breakfast Red Deer, which includes a team of six people who organize a free breakfast and presentation once a month, usually about social media and marketing for business.

Baker, her daughter and the rest of her family have lived in Red Deer for over 30 years. Over the years she’s done a variety of volunteering, ranging from lunchroom supervising at school, to hockey tournaments, to canvassing for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Baker, 56, said she is now seriously thinking about volunteering for the biggest sporting event Red Deer has ever hosted, the upcoming 2019 Canada Winter Games. The call for general volunteers is expected to go out about the end of this year.

Pam Snowdon, executive director of Volunteer Central, said when it comes to the role that volunteers have in the community, she likes to use the analogy of a playground.

Often when people are at a playground they don’t stop to think how that playground came to to be. “It’s usually there because of the hard work and the fundraising and the dedication of and commitment of volunteers in the community.”

Without volunteers, a lot of the nonprofit and charity groups in Red Deer wouldn’t be able to go forward with their missions, Snowdon said. Volunteer Central is the hub that connects volunteers with needs in the community, and also offers training and workshops.

“Red Deer has a great reputation for volunteerism,” she said.

“Volunteering is becoming something that a lot of employers are looking for in resumes now because it tells you a lot about a person’s character, even for students who are applying for places in … higher education know that those applications ask for their volunteer involvement. Through volunteering they can get references for their resume, add to their knowledge base, to their skill-building.”

During an economic downturn there’s a lot more pressure on charities and nonprofits for their services. The flip side is that sometimes people have more time because of a layoff to be able to volunteer and get out of the house and feel good, or to do some skill-building, Snowdon said.

In the national Canada 150 Volunteer Challenge, Red Deer was in second place for the month of March, out of 72 volunteer centres. Kelowna was first, so Snowdon has been busy going around saying, “Be afraid Kelowna. Be very afraid.” (Volunteers can register online at volunteercentral.ca).

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