National Volunteer Week is April 7-13, 2109, a time to celebrate and thank the volunteers in our local communities.

Volunteer Canada tells us that 12.7 million Canadians serve their communities as volunteers and a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada showed that volunteers added over two billion hours to Canada’s work effort in 2017. These hours are contributed by individuals acting independently, through community groups, registered charities and through businesses. The common thread is an interest in making a positive impact on community, whether the community is local, provincial, national or international.

Many Battle River Power Coop members are part of this incredible unpaid workforce. They are volunteer fire fighters, board members of local organizations, fund raisers for charities, coaches for sports teams and tutors for youth. This list could go on to fill pages; the tasks accomplished by volunteers are as numerous and varied as the volunteers themselves.

While lending a helping hand, many are delighted to discover that volunteering brings unexpected personal rewards. There are intangibles like better self-esteem and friendships with like-minded people. Tangible spin-offs include the development of a new interest or skill set that may open doors to unforeseen opportunities. In like manner, volunteer actions have ripple effects in the community. A simple kindness, like bringing a meal to a neighbor in distress, may be ‘paid forward’ in ways that are impossible to predict. Battle River Power Coop’s annual participation in the Adopt-A-Day program with Habitat for Humanity is an event that brings staff together, assists local families and by extension is good for the whole community. The theme of Volunteer Week 2019 is apt: the volunteer factor really does lift communities.

The poster for Volunteer Week 2019 features an image of hot air balloons, chosen because the different sizes, shapes and colours reflect the diversity of community volunteers. To quote Volunteer Canada, “It illustrates that when people volunteer together, the sky is the limit, in terms of what they can achieve.”