Park: Volunteers – the base of our foundation

Do you volunteer? If so, why do you volunteer? Most people volunteer for the same reason they give: they believe in the cause they are volunteering for and the positive impact it will make on their community.

The value of volunteers cannot be overstated. Our foundation engages over 2,000 volunteers a year. 2,000. At our Festival of Trees event volunteers contribute thousands of hours. Those hours equal several thousands of dollars that would be paid to employees, thereby decreasing the amount of funding going back to the hospital.

In our organization, volunteers can assist with anything from office duties such as mail-outs of annual appeals and tax receipts, to helping host million dollar fundraising events. The opportunities are limitless.

Volunteers provide a way for foundations and other charities to exponentially increase their ability to fundraise. We would never be able to host the fundraising events that we do without dedicated volunteers who believe in our cause.

Let’s look at nine reasons why people volunteer:

1. Volunteers want to give back to an organization that they believe in. For many people this is their first interaction with a charity;

2. They are at a stage in their life where they can provide time but not money. Younger people may not have the financial means to give, but they can provide time;

3. One or several people in their peer group volunteer so they were asked to volunteer, or volunteered themselves to go with their peers. We are social creatures and enjoy the company of like-minded people;

4. It’s a family tradition. We are fortunate at our Foundation to have multiple generations of families who donate time to us. They have made it a tradition to volunteer time at the Foundation or for certain events;

5. They want to contribute to their community. Most volunteers take pride in their communities. One way to express this pride is to volunteer for organizations that improve the quality of life in those communities;

6. They want to learn skills. Volunteering can expose you to activities and skills you might not otherwise seek out or for which you have no knowledge. Volunteering is great for people looking to build employable skills, and great for learning new skills;

7. Networking. Meeting other people is one of the huge up-sides of volunteering. Not only are you committing time to a cause you believe in, you are meeting people that believe in the same cause as you.

8. Volunteering is good for you. Studies have shown that volunteering and showing gratitude is a great way to relieve stress and increase happiness. They have also shown that people who volunteer live longer and are healthier.

9. Volunteering establishes real-life relationships. In an online, connected world with lots of social media, volunteering provides an opportunity to interact and engage with people in real life.

These are just a few of the reasons people volunteer. Our Foundation is forever grateful for the volunteers who choose to spend their valuable time with us. They help us carry out our mission in Central Alberta to people they may have never met. Their work will touch Central Albertans now and for years to come. Volunteers truly make an impact in our community and in the lives of thousands of people at their most critical moments.

For this I say thank you.

Iaian Park is the executive director of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Foundation.

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