Time well spent: Volunteer Ottawa

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.”                                         – Elizabeth Andrew, Author

Year after year, day in and day out, Ottawa depends on volunteers to improve lives, break down barriers, and create opportunities for people across our city.

While at the beginning of the pandemic, lots of programs shut down, many services are slowly resuming in-person activities and are looking to bring back volunteers.

According to Christine Trauttmansdorff, Executive Director with Volunteer Ottawa, “Many people don’t realize that volunteer programs and opportunities are open. That there is a real need for volunteers right now.” 

Like many changes over the last two years, volunteer opportunities have also adapted to include virtual opportunities in addition to the traditional in-person roles.

As we embark on a season all about generosity, we invite you to consider giving the gift of your time, whether as an individual, organization, group or family. 

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Hand in Hand building community 

For 65 years, Volunteer Ottawa (VO) has been a leader in helping people make a meaningful difference in our city, and providing critical volunteer recruitment and capacity development services to hundreds of not–for-profits – services that are essential to their ability to meet community needs.

Why volunteer? The benefits are as immeasurable as the opportunities.

In addition to helping others, volunteering can provide a sense of purpose, help develop and practise new skills, meet new friends, find new passions, and have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. 

Many Ottawans may already volunteer informally -  like helping out with your kids’ sports activities or helping shovel snow for an elderly neighbour - so why not take the next step and formally volunteer to have a larger impact in the community?

At any given time, the VO website has hundreds of volunteer positions posted. By creating a volunteer profile you can easily apply to positions that interest you. 

The beauty of their online portal is it allows you to search and filter opportunities that match your interests, skills, availability, group you’d be helping, preferred location throughout the city, language and also by opportunity type such as best suited roles for youth (11 - 13), high school students (14 - 18), newcomers to Canada, adults, families, groups, persons with a disability or medical condition and seniors.

Although young Canadians are more likely to volunteer, older volunteers contribute more total hours of their time, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada.

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Generation Give

In September of 2021, VO launched a new youth volunteering program, Generation Give,  which aims to not only guide high school students in completing their Community Involvement Hours but help them find meaning and value in volunteering and instill a lifelong practice to enrich their lives.

"The things young people can gain from volunteer opportunities goes way beyond checking a box on the requirement for graduation," says Christine. "There's chances to gain work experience, start a new network with other youth who are interested in the same causes and gain some references."

According to student volunteer Isabelle, “To anyone thinking of volunteering - one thousand percent do it - it is such a great feeling to have known that you have the chance, the honour of helping someone and spreading happiness.”

This is in keeping with the sentiment that to the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world. We may never fully understand the profound impact we have made on one person’s life through our volunteer activities but we should put ourselves out there.

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Community giving 

For organizations looking for volunteers, Volunteer Ottawa offers a range of benefits including unlimited posting of volunteer needs, access to over 7,000 volunteers, and discounts on workshops.

And through their VO Connect program, offer companies and government agencies the chance to connect with not-for-profits and have a meaningful impact in the community, while engaging in a wide range of group volunteering team activities. 

“Volunteers represent the kind of quiet determination and heroism that inspires others to act,” says Geoff Simpson, Chief Executive Officer Finance and executive sponsor of the Hydro Ottawa charitable committee.

At Hydro Ottawa, we recognize that it’s not always easy to find time to give back to the community between family and work commitments – although many employees still do. For this reason, in addition to our corporate giving, we offer an annual employee volunteer day for employees to volunteer with a registered charity or organization that aligns with our Community Investment Program, including: education/capacity building; renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation; and health, safety and wellness.

As British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, famously said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”  

What will you give in 2023, Ottawa?

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