Today I was recognized for my years of volunteer service in North Bay and was asked to speak about volunteerism during Volunteer Week. I accepted the invitation with gratitude and humility, keeping in mind that I am only one of thousands of volunteers who serve in this great community. It’s the volunteers here in North Bay that directly contribute to the health, strength, and compassionate, generous nature of our city.
I am well aware of the number of volunteers here, having been involved directly and indirectly with so many. Over 300 non-profit and charitable organizations, 2000 businesses, thousands of seniors and youth groups who serve continuously. For example, The Heritage Gardeners, 250 volunteers, WWCC, 401, NBRHC, 400+, to smaller organizations, less than a dozen members, some with one or two. Many volunteer hours representing thousands of hours and a lot of fundraising. Great examples of people collectively making good things happen. The best kind of investment to build a strong community – social collateral, social connection and that can definitely lead to economic prosperity. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to live in such a caring and supportive city.
There are many individuals who come to mind, but I thought I would mention, one or two who I had the privilege to know. Ida Clavelle volunteered all over North Bay, even a few days before she passed away. It gave her great pleasure to give of herself. A wonderful sense of humour, kind and very loving human being, never looked for accolades, she just kept giving to others. Annie McGee, lives here in North Bay, an icon at the Capitol Centre, having served many years as usher and coordinator of ushers, the Cancer Society, Relay for Life, The gathering Place, Heart & Stroke, Big Bike Ride, MS, NBRH Foundation and so many more. We’d be hard pressed not to find a volunteer in our presence as we go about our daily living.
Volunteering is really about sharing yourself with others to make things better. It’s a reciprocal relationship. Everybody wins, the giver and the receiver. Just ask yourself: What can I give, what are my gifts? How can I be of service to others?
Volunteering is life changing for all involved. It doesn’t matter what that gift is, whether you give away thousands of dollars or you give a smile to a stranger, it all has value. The more we gather as a community to socially connect in that way, the stronger, healthier and more prosperous we will be. Volunteering to me is not something you do as an afterthought. It’s something that you must do to be fully human. I see it as an absolute responsibility, contributing to the whole in this short life we have here on earth. Opportunities to make the world a better place. That’s what volunteering is all about.
We can all make a difference. We all have the ability to change somebody’s life by how we give of our own skills, talent, and creativity.