Volunteerism and community involvement high

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

Volunteerism is crucial for community development and sustainability. Many people get caught up with day-to-day life, forgetting how important it is to give back to the community.

Citizens in Waterloo, however, demonstrate community vitality by consistently helping out in the community.

According to Mary Thorpe, manager of volunteer services at the City of Waterloo, there are over 6,000 volunteers who are actively giving back in the area.

There are a variety of ways in which residents can volunteer within the Waterloo community. The Volunteer Action Centre in Kitchener also provides residents with a number of opportunities to help out within the community.

Dianne Boston-Nyp, who works in community engagement at the Volunteer Action Centre, said, “We have about 160 different local organizations that post positions on an ongoing basis. At any one time, there are about 400 positions that are available through the database that we manage.”

According to Boston-Nyp, these opportunities can range from special events to tutoring, meal programs, senior programs, childcare and more.

Both the City of Waterloo and the Volunteer Action Centre take active steps in order to promote volunteerism within the community.

The City of Waterloo encourages residents to visit their website and view their social media accounts to get information on upcoming opportunities in the area. They also ensure these opportunities are advertized in local newspapers.

Similarly, the Volunteer Action Centre works to actively encourage community involvement. They utilize a website in order to update residents and communicate with media partners in order to advertize available opportunities.

“I think volunteerism is extremely important just in a way many organizations, and I think society in general, functions,” said Kate Murray, administration and development director at Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group.

Thorpe expanded on Murray’s comment: “It really is a civic responsibility is what it comes down to. It is important also to support your community and your neighbours. It’s caring for one another, and by caring for one another, we build a vital and nurturing community.”

Despite there being a large amount of volunteers in Waterloo, the city can always use more. Boston-Nyp said it is always important that new people are volunteering because there are constantly roles that need to be filled.

There are also a variety of opportunities that students can engage with in order to get involved.

“I look at volunteers, as volunteers are history-makers and world-changers, and our volunteers have changed peoples’ lives by their involvement. It’s pretty incredible,” Thorpe said.

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