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  • Time to salute nation’s volunteers

    The week of April 6-12 has been declared the National Volunteer Week. Volunteerism is the lubricant that enables our modern society to function. It is that time of the year that we make a special effort to recognize our local, provincial and national volunteers, pay tribute and thank Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers.
    Many people go around their business of earning a living and maintaining a family without even giving an iota of thought to becoming a volunteer. Volunteerism is supposed to be for people who have retired, have no special hobby and are therefore trying their level best to pass their time by volunteering. It’s because of such volunteers that we have a strong nation. It is believed that volunteers strengthen our community.
    According to David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, Canada is “a smart and caring nation.” It’s our dedication to community involvement that has given us that reputation at home and around the globe. – See more at: ties and make our country vibrant.

    Volunteering keeps our democratic system of government functioning properly. One doesn’t have to wait until one is retired to volunteer. If you are working, there are several opportunities available to serve in voluntary societies, groups and professional institutions. Many professions have a volunteer board of directors, making it possible to devote your time to the growth and furtherance of your group. Joining service clubs, such as the Lions Club or Rotary Club, is popular for many people. And the biggest byproduct of joining such a group is networking. Among its members, there are bankers and managers of different companies and you get a chance to meet them and talk to them informally after the meetings. Such contacts may translate into business opportunities or employment contacts.

    Participation in a voluntary capacity can become useful when one is unemployed. Many employers look at your participation in a voluntary capacity with favour and would employ those who have volunteered in an organization even if that organization is unrelated to your profession. Hence, it’s wise to volunteer for the Red Cross or an organization dealing with immigrants. Who knows that could open up doors for a new career?

    Political parties, especially closer to an election, are usually anxious to get volunteer help. This may involve door knocking with a candidate to telephoning urging people to come out to vote. Of course, if your candidate is elected, you have an open door to him/her in case if you have a problem dealing with the government or city council.

    Some of us are blessed in being born in a community, which encourages volunteerism from childhood. As a member of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, we are encouraged to volunteer in various activities at an early age. That spirit and desire to volunteer is so much enshrined in the minds of community that we have an army of adult volunteers doing various chores.

    When I published weekly newspapers in Morinville and Redwater, we published a special section during Volunteer Week, writing about each volunteer group in town and area. This was one the most read and popular features in the newspaper. Besides making every group happy and publicizing their activities, it turned out to be the second biggest moneymaker annually for the newspaper.

    Some of the most satisfying volunteer opportunities are becoming a volunteer coach for a hockey or soccer club, or a group leader for scouts or guides. To coach youngsters and see them become tomorrow’s stars can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in one’s lifetime.

    Some retirees continue their quest for volunteering even after the end of their working lives. Several opportunities to volunteer are available even abroad. There are organizations looking for volunteers in teaching, sports, conservation, environment and performing arts overseas. Organizations like CESO (Canadian Executive Service Overseas) always are looking for experienced people in various occupations to go abroad to volunteer.

    While we pay tribute to all the volunteers, it is befitting to point out that virtually anyone can volunteer because everyone has something to offer. Thanks to thousands of volunteers who dedicate their life to volunteer and make our neighbourhoods, towns, cities and country an ideal, proud and safe place to live.