Volunteers Are The Roots Of Strong Communities


Roots are important.

A place like Kitchener Waterloo has a history. Each person who lives here, and has lived here, has set down roots. They get tangled up and they hold us together.  They hold our history, and clues to what is important for all of us.

Tomorrow is the last day of Volunteer Appreciation Week.  Volunteers are one of the single greatest factors that help us achieve our goals at House of Friendship.  As Alissa from the Kingsdale Community Centre recently shared with us, “our community  is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers, they are the hands and feet of the support we are able to provide to the community.”

Pat always has a smile and a joke to share.

Pat always has a smile and a joke to share.

Take Pat, for example, a volunteer at the Emergency Food Hamper Program.  She dedicates herself to making sure things are clean and tidy and lending a hand anywhere when needed.  She told me that, “volunteering is a great feeling. When I volunteer I know that I’m helping and I like to help people!”

She and over 70 other volunteers help each week to ensure people have something to eat in our community at the Food Hamper Program. Each day everywhere in House of Friendship and across the Region Pat and countless other volunteers like her get to work and leave a profound and lasting mark on our neighbourhoods.

Can you see the forest for the trees?

The roots that plants and trees set down into the earth prevent the erosion of soil, keep deserts at bay and when they are uprooted, the effects are dramatic and often catastrophic.  Volunteers play a similar role in our community.  They prevent the erosion of the quality of life for all of us, they keep us together, they help and they keep us on track.  As Sandra from the Charles Street Men’s hostel shared,

Volunteers are valuable people who bring many strengths to many areas. They teach staff their valuable skills in order to make everyone’s job better.  Volunteers are kind, gentle, outgoing and have great insight.  They sometimes have a different perspective that makes us look at our job in a different light. It’s true that we sometimes need an outside person’s  point of view so that we can see through different eyes what our job is doing and can do.  Volunteers become good friends and are there when you need an extra hand and always go the extra mile.

Peeling potatoes in the kitchen might not seem super glamorous but when all the little things add up, volunteers are the ones who are at the forefront of ensuring that we can all belong and thrive.

Devon from the Chandler Mowat Community Centre described volunteers as “the patch work that stitches the Chandler Mowat neighbourhood together. From young community members, to seniors, to leaders in mosques and churches, we draw on volunteers to keep the centre grounded in its rich diversity and to build a larger global community of which all are a vital part.”

At the Sunnydale Community Centre Linda described how volunteers are integral to what we do. She believes that they are not only amazing connectors of people in the community, but their willingness to do whatever needs to be done is never ending. They all play a different but important part in what happens here and it works! They bring their own strengths and interests and apply them here with great energy and passion and develop fantastic relationships in the process. All of them do things that we could never do on our own as staff. When someone from outside the community comes to visit the centre they can’t tell who is a staff, resident, or volunteer. Everyone works together side by side and do it in a way that feels very comfortable. They come together and say “I know how to do this” or “I know how to do that” And bang! They do it!

So join us, in taking a moment to thank the many people who volunteer in our community, and help make it all worthwhile.  For being the roots, that help us weather the storms of life, and grow a little closer in the process.

Posted on: April 15th, 2016

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