VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION

Like most events right now, National Volunteer Week is a virtual celebration.

Volunteers across Canada are recognized from April 19 to 25, during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of volunteering across the country and in our community. Volunteer Canada’s website says “almost 13 million Canadian volunteers deserve our coast-to-coast-to-coast cheers for their dedication and generosity.”

In Cochrane, Mayor Jeff Genung echoes that sentiment, saying “volunteers are the heart of Cochrane.”

Cochrane Immigrant Services in partnership with Mehtab East Indian Cuisine has stepped up to virtually recognize local volunteers. A contest online at facebook.com/NewcomersCochrane affords residents a chance to applaud Cochrane’s volunteers, with a daily free lunch box draw. Cochrane Immigrant Services has also been hand-delivering thank you cards to volunteer’s homes.

The Town of Cochrane has also invited public recognition of local volunteers on Facebook, with daily recognition gifts awarded by random draw. Residents can find more information and nominate a local volunteer at facebook.com/CochraneProgramsActivitiesOpportunities/

Just one of those deserving volunteers is Mary. Before the pandemic restricted public visits to long-term care homes and other seniors’ facilities, Mary volunteered at the Bethany Care Centre while attending Mitford Middle School as part of the Seniors for Kids Society mentoring program.

Mary reflects on her time volunteering with the Seniors for Kids Society, saying that she made many of her favourite memories at the Bethany.

“[Seniors for Kids] have given me and a few peers the opportunity to spend an hour once every week to two weeks at the Bethany Care Centre,” said Mary. “The time I spent there has lit a spark in my heart for seniors. When I had the chance to volunteer at the Bethany, it was truly the highlight of my day.”

Another local volunteer, Renita says there are many reasons why she chose to volunteer by becoming a mentor to youth.

“I am the person I am today because someone chose to mentor me,” explained Renita. “I could not have achieved what I have in my life if my mentee did not take the time to take me under her wing and show me the ropes.”

“When people ask me why I do it, it’s simple. The world needs more mentors — more shining lights who will help our young people navigate the challenges of our ever-changing world. Ultimately, mentoring isn’t a one-way process. It’s a two-way street. It has the potential to change — indeed, to radically transform — not just one life, but two. It’s fun, it’s an adventure, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and you’ll have stories to last a lifetime.”

While there’s no question that volunteers like Mary and Renita benefit from the act of volunteering and don’t look for recognition, we can all use National Volunteer Week to applaud the immense contribution volunteers make to our country, our communities and millions of our lives.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ~ Xun Kuang

Cochrane Immigrant Services Committee and Mehtab East Indian Cuisine partner to celebrate National Volunteer Week
Seniors for Kids Society is a not-for-profit organization that promotes intergenerational relationships in Cochrane, Alberta.

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