The financial rewards may be small but in the world of community volunteerism, Every Smile Counts.
That was the theme of the National Volunteer Week celebration in Ponoka. More than 100 people took time away from their volunteer duties to take a bow and enjoy an evening of entertainment at the Kinsmen Community Centre April 22..
“A smile brings warmth and encouragement. It costs nothing, it takes no extra time and it truly brightens our world,” said Lynn Gray, Alberta Health Services’ central zone lead for volunteer resources.
“National Volunteer Week is all about celebrating the energy and spirit of our volunteers.”
Gray said volunteers provide an array of services to the community and each and every one should be commended for their kindness and generosity.
Politicians deputy mayor Doug Gill, Reeve Gordon Svenningsen and MLA Ray Prins said the community is a better place because of the actions of volunteers.
“Smiles are actually the currency of volunteerism,” Gill explained. “When you do something and smile about it, it makes you feel good as well as the person who is receiving it.”
The selfless actions of Ponoka’s volunteers may not affect the world “but they make a world of difference to those you touch every day,” Gill said.
The volunteer event happened to fall on Earth Day and Prins took the time to recognize and congratulate the more than 800 students, businesspeople and residents who spent part of the day picking up litter around town. He also acknowledged volunteers who coach sports teams, mentor youths and help seniors to remain independent. He recognized businesses in the community that support volunteer groups through monetary donations and gifts in kind.
“The support of the community is in its volunteerism,” Prins added. Without strong volunteer corps, the community’s social fabric would unravel.
Different generations need to work together
Guest Jan Fox has more than 28 years experience in the Corrections Service of Canada and is a part-time motivational speaker. Her presentation focused on the need for communities and organizations to be more inclusive of volunteers from different generations.
“We need to find ways to work together better and we have to find ways to work together differently,” she said. Service clubs need an infusion of younger members to stay vital in the community but often there is mistrust and apprehension that must be overcome.
Each generation of volunteers in an organization has to be flexible and welcome each other’s ideas and experiences, she said.
Volunteers need to move from the “I” generation to the “C” generation. The I stands for isolate, individualize and independent. The C stands for co-operate, communicate and collaborate.
Doing so will move toward the creation of a community of support.