Most people try to give what they can when it comes to charitable organizations, but there is perhaps no greater contribution than donating one’s time. That is the idea behind National Volunteer Week, which the Municipality celebrated along with countless other locales last week, from April 24 – 30. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made mention of the occasion in a statement, saying “Volunteers are the lifeblood of communities and organizations across the country. Every year, approximately 24 million Canadians volunteer their time, energy, and experiences to improve the lives of others from coast to coast to coast. During National Volunteer Week, we celebrate Canada’s volunteers and thank them for devoting their time.” What makes a volunteer tick? That question was asked of three local volunteers, who each provided unique insights on the noble work of volunteering.
Wendy Embleton is the President of the Kemptville District Community Association (KDCA), an organization which she helped to found in 2018. “We really didn’t know what the purpose of the KDCA was going to be at the inception,” Wendy said. Now the organization has taken on the responsibility of Kemptville’s Canada Day celebrations, among other activities. The last two years of pandemic life were somewhat trickier for the KDCA as much of the community engagement needed to be virtual, but those who run the organization have done great at keeping their heads up. In Wendy’s view, volunteering needs to be fun and enjoyable for the volunteer. “It shouldn’t be another job,” she said. “You should be doing something where you’re really enjoying it as well, and if that’s not the case, find something else to do.” She also stressed that there are a great many different duties that volunteers can perform, so there is always something available for everyone. “Don’t get burnt out,” she said. “There is always a place for you in this town.”
Mary-Anne Leang is another local volunteer who lends her time to various organizations, including the local chapter of the Girl Guides. She spoke of the idea of volunteering as one way to lend one’s “time, talent, or treasure” in order to help other people and make life more affordable and enjoyable for others. “For me, treasure is not something I’m able to help with, but definitely my time and talent are,” Mary-Anne said. “Seeing the people at the activities you volunteer for, seeing them enjoy it and seeing the community come together is important.” She also spoke of the importance of getting children involved in volunteer activities at a young age so that they can see the results of their hard work and helping out firsthand. Mary-Anne’s own teenage daughter has logged close to 300 volunteer hours with her school, far above the mandatory 40 hours to graduate high school. “I think everyone can make a difference,” Mary-Anne added. “Once you get started, you kind of get hooked on what a difference you can make.”
Neil Whyte has volunteered with the Oxford Mills Community Association (OMCA) for several years. “Everyone says that volunteering is a very positive, rewarding experience, and it truly is,” said Neil. “And it’s doubly rewarding if you understand why you’re doing it.” Neil’s inspiration for volunteering comes from a simple question: “What kind of community do I want to live in?” He told the Times that people appreciate volunteers, giving the example of receiving positive comments when he is watering the bridge planters in Oxford Mills. The OMCA is always seeking new volunteers to help out with its activities, such as Canada Day celebrations. Neil mentioned that the demand for local volunteers in general is very high this year because of large events such as the Kemptville Live Music Festival and the International Plowing Match. Neil is hopeful that volunteers will continue to keep smaller organizations in mind as well. “We want every event that runs in the area to be successful,” he said.
Those wishing to make the most generous donation possible – that is, their time – can get in touch with the KDCA, the OMCA, and countless other local organizations by searching for their respective Facebook pages, or reaching out in person at community events.