Volunteering, giving back, being of service whatever you want to call it — is important for reasons beyond building our community and being engaged. There are a myriad of ways to be involved including contributions of money, time and even resources.

Volunteering provides a sense of community and connection and is important at a fundamental level of a communities healthiness and success. If all the volunteers were to disappear, our community would notice a significant negative impact right away.

Just imagine… If we didn’t have the food bank, or missions kitchens, shelters, fundraising, board and committee members, mentorship, coaches for sports teams, parents for all types of events, etc., the dynamic of our community would shift immensely. There is a massive amount of infrastructure based around volunteer time.

Volunteerism creates a better community and better citizens. When you walk by Salvation Army and see a bell ringer this Christmas season, say “Thank you for volunteering” as you walk by. Even if it’s not your charity of choice – our community as a whole benefits from the support others give to these organizations and causes.

I encourage you to take a look at how you’re already giving back in your daily life. Do you have the neighbourhood kids over all the time? Do you drive all the kids around? Do you spend time mentoring someone at work? Where do you practice acts of kindness, or being of service? You might already be giving back without realizing it.

Allow my curiosity to ask: If you’re not volunteering – why not? I realize volunteering is not for everyone…and that is totally fine. There are times when it is a good choice not to, the timing is not always the best. But if you don’t volunteer, I invite you to get curious about why you’re not. Our community needs you — there is always a need for volunteers. If you’re like me, you get involved in volunteering for a cause because a friend asked or because it’s a cause that is close to home.

As a business, you can give back with your time and with your company and use the opportunity for team engagement activities. Many companies become involved in the community because it’s a core philosophy of the company culture.

There’s also nothing wrong with volunteering and community engagement being a reciprocal experience. When you are just volunteering to give, there is a higher chance of burning out and you may eventually feel like you’re not getting anything back.

So ask yourself: what’s in it for me? A feel good, gaining experience? Being productive with your “spare” time? Supporting those or a cause that’s supported you? etc. Maybe it’s just the sense of fun and connection and camaraderie when people come together as a team. Volunteering puts us with a group of like-minded people right away, there is a commonality.

Throughout time, people have gathered to “work” together. As a kid it was everyone coming together to bale hay. Now, it’s demo/reno projects after we’ve watched another DIY show. I find the work project always goes faster with friends and it’s definitely more fun!

Whether or not you are already volunteering, I encourage you to do something outside of what you do for a living…it is an easy way to burn yourself out. Go outside of your skill set, have some fun and learn something new!

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