This has been National Volunteer Week and it's one of those things I try to remember each year, for our lives depend heavily of the efforts of volunteers. We have both volunteered extensively, and I hope you do too. As my dad always told me, it's important to find a way to give back to your community one way or another.
I didn't think about it much at the time, but both my mom and dad volunteered, commitments I was aware of as a child. Dad volunteered with the church, usually on financial matters, and mom helped run a thrift shop for the IODE (Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire - how's that for colonial name!). The IODE does still exist, with more than 200 chapters across Canada.
The next time I thought much about volunteering was when our young boys got into sports. We realized immediately that here was a whole large group of parents who volunteered as coaches and organizers - for T-ball, hockey, football and baseball. And the coaches made a huge difference to our kid's enjoyment of the games.
Mrs. F.G. and I eventually chose to make our contribution by serving as leaders for cubs, scouts and brownies. Have you ever walked by a brownie group and a cub group meeting in different rooms (ours were in a church)? No-one can ever tell me that the genders at that age aren't different. But we survived and loved it, especially when it came to camps.
Later, as the kids grew up and we had a little more time, we got involved in other organizations. Mrs. F.G. took horticultural courses and led the establishment of the Guelph Master Gardeners group. Later she moved out of that intense time and into quilting, where she helped with programs for both the Guelph and the Queen's Bush quilting guilds.
For my part I got involved in helping start both the Ontario Land Trust Alliance and the Ontario Farmland Trust, both organizations still going strong today. After I've retired my life (until Feb. 2018!) was built around volunteering for the local Bruce Trail Club of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. I was in charge of overseeing all the properties they had purchased here in the Beaver Valley (some 40-50 now) and assessing each new property that was preserved.
This involved mostly field work, which was the part I enjoyed. In fact, knowing that I would be asked to volunteer after I retired, I pro-actively called up and offered to volunteer two years before retiring. I wanted to head off any requests to serve on any committees!
Today our own volunteering years seem to be over, and we're more on the receiving end. Volunteers do so much in the health care system, from raising money for hospitals to visiting shut-ins and delivering meals-on-wheels. Sometimes I think volunteers run the world, they certainly make it a much more pleasant place to live!
So I encourage you to find some way you can 'give back to your community', in any small way that you can.