Six Easy Ways to Celebrate National Volunteer Week!

Ilya Ushakov

Director, Programs & Volunteerism

We’re delving into a unique element of volunteering on our blog each day during National Volunteer Week. From reflections on wellness to explorations of new trends, check back each day for a different take on how volunteering continues to make the world go round. Today’s post is Part 1. Click to read Part 2 and Part 3.

Welcome to our favourite time of the year! 

April 19-25 marks National Volunteer Week in Canada. It’s a time for volunteers to be recognized, celebrated and thanked for being the foundation of our community—for an entire week!

National Volunteer Week dates back to 1943, beginning as a celebration of women’s contributions to the war effort during World War ll. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that an official week was declared to recognize ALL volunteers.

Imagine a world with no volunteers. Frankly, it’s impossible. There would be no festivals, fewer sporting activities, and stray animals would wander the streets. During times of crisis—like a pandemic, for example—many would lose access to essential services and risk becoming isolated. 

But, it’s in our nature to volunteer—to lend a hand, make an impact and feel part of a community. At times, people volunteer without even knowing it, by helping shovel a neighbours sidewalk, picking up garbage in the park, or helping a newcomer friend practice their English. 

With the physical distancing measures put in place due to COVID-19, it’s an interesting and exciting time to be a volunteer. Virtual and micro-volunteering opportunities are thriving, screening processes are adapting, and many organizations are radically shifting their operations to ensure that Canadians have what they need to survive and thrive during this time. Despite the changes, volunteers have—as always—been immensely supportive.

Which brings us to this week. While we collectively push through these difficult times, we’re all in on Volunteer Canada’s 2020 NVW theme: “It’s time to applaud this country’s volunteers.

Throughout the week, we’ll be posting blogs daily, each exploring a unique element of volunteerism. Look forward to reflections on volunteering and wellness, informal volunteering, community engagement, and how creative approaches such as virtual and micro-volunteerism are keeping the volunteer flame alive. We hope you’ll join us on this celebratory journey as we explore how each of us can be champions of volunteerism in Edmonton.

You’re probably wondering, “how can I celebrate National Volunteer Week?” We’re happy to provide you with some ideas on how to take advantage of this week and make an impact in your community.

Of course, don’t forget to hashtag your social media posts with #NVW2020 and #yegvolunteers as you share your journey with us.

Six easy ways to celebrate volunteers during National Volunteer Week

Share your favourite volunteer memory

It’s always heartening to be able to hear diverse stories of how important volunteering is to someone, and how much of an impact it can have on their lives. Such sharing also has a knack for inspiring others to volunteer. During National Volunteer Week, we encourage you share an interesting memory of your own—it’s also an opportunity to shout out a charitable organization at the same time!

Sign up for a virtual or micro-volunteer opportunity

Your ticket to volunteering while social distancing! You can visit VolunteerConnector.org for the latest opportunities near you. Near the top-right, click the GO button next to the “You can volunteer online” heading and you’ll be taken to the latest listings. There are plenty of opportunities for you to contribute from the comfort of your own home. The added bonus of virtual volunteering is that you could support an initiative on the other side of the world!

Give thanks!

It could be an organization that does tremendous work or a passionate friend who got you into volunteering. Perhaps it’s a volunteer engagement specialist who supported your journey or simply someone who volunteered their time to help you out of a bind. This week is full of opportunities to share some warmth with the people around you!

Explore and learn more

Even if you can’t help now, that doesn’t mean you can plan ahead and find your charitable fit for the future. Many organizations have suspended their volunteering programs in light of COVID-19; however, once they reopen they will need all the help they can get! This is a fantastic opportunity to research an organization or opportunity that speaks to you, so that once the health measures are lifted you can make the impact you want. You’ve got great resources all around you: just ask your friends, co-workers, or neighbours!

Bring a friend along for the ride

Volunteering always makes you feel good, but volunteering with friends is even better! Getting creative together, sharing experiences, and making memories is what volunteering is all about. Plan ahead for where you and a friend can begin making those treasured memories once volunteering is back in full swing.

Build a giving mindset

Volunteering isn’t always showing up to a pre-determined location, or pairing with a recognized charity to help fulfill their mission. It’s often as simple as doing good deeds in your community, such as cleaning up the neighbourhood, watching your neighbour’s kids while they run out to get groceries, touching base with a senior who lives alone, or carpooling. They’re simple tasks, sure, but they can do wonders in inspiring a giving mindset to spread throughout those around you!

Every day, the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations hears your stories of volunteers making a difference. We cannot hear enough of them. During National Volunteer Week, we invite you to celebrate the volunteers in your life by sharing your stories with us on social media!  Just follow @EdmCVO on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtags #yegvolunteers and #NVW2020.

To all organizations, volunteers, and people celebrating: Happy National Volunteer Week!