By INONGE CHIMWASO
With over 19,000 volunteers donating their time to at least 70 organizations in Central Alberta, volunteerism plays a big role in the local economy.
“There are so many services now that would not happen to the quality that they do without volunteers,” said Volunteer Central board chair Donna Carter.
Organizations across the nation are partaking in festivities to thank their volunteers during National Volunteer Week.
Volunteer Central focuses its efforts on connecting people with organizations they value, while promoting volunteerism in Red Deer, as well as in neighbouring towns and cities.
With the growing needs of non-profit organizations across Central Alberta, Carter said being able to employ enough staff to operate them isn’t feasible because a lot of these organizations operate on government grants or small donations.
Carter said ultimately these operations require a great deal of manpower and there are not enough funds to pay for the hours worked.
And while non-profit organizations could still run, many wouldn’t be able to operate at the capacity at which they do without the selfless acts of volunteers that keep their vision alive.
Fortunately, Red Deer has a very giving community, Carter said.
“Red Deer has such a rich history of volunteerism — people care.”
While Red Deer’s community is giving, Carter said Central Alberta generally has a tight-knit community with people who often extend a hand amongst each other.
“Some volunteers live in Red Deer and volunteer in rural communities or live in rural communities and volunteer in Red Deer,” said Carter.
The hours volunteered each year in Central Alberta exceed 515,283.
According to Carter, the services provided and the time donated to these services ultimately increases the economy of living in a community.
This makes communities “safer, cleaner, more inviting and vibrant,” she said.
Carter said that finding the right organization to invest time in is a twofold experience.
“To be able to give back to the organization we believe in, it sort of makes us better people.”
It also helps people in the community who need help “so they can feel part of our community,” she said.
“You feel like you belong to a community, making it a home rather than just a place you can live in.”
This experience enriches individual volunteers and the people they are helping, she said.
“Volunteer Week is about building awareness and recognizing people for what they do and what they give and how they give back,” said Carter. “It’s really about where we actually sit back and say ‘Our community is better because of these people.’ ”