By Sue Tiffin
After my brother-in-law’s passing a few years ago, my response to the overwhelming grief and loss I felt was that I decided I was going to say yes to everything, because I could.
I joined the Minden Hills events committee, Minden Pride, organized the native plant sale, offered to take on the downtown banner program when it was at risk of folding, joined the Minden Hills Cultural Centre Foundation, ran some trivia nights for groups around the county, and became a director on a national research non-profit.
In doing so, I experienced an abundance of joy making valuable friendships, learning so much about the county and the people who live here, improving my own skill set, working with others who I might not have had the chance to cross paths with in the same way and of course, contributing in whatever way I could to the community.
But inevitably, I had to say no to a few things after that, in order to balance volunteering alongside the other important roles and passions in my life, which include work and family and trying not to return library books too late.
I had quickly learned a rather endearing rule of volunteerism – once you’ve said yes to one group, you’re inevitably asked to join other amazing causes, and those volunteer recruiters are enthusiastically relentless for a good reason: there is always an opportunity to help.
While we know that volunteers make a small town great, and that our community would not be as enriched as it is without these integral members of our community, we also know that finding people to help is becoming increasingly difficult.
Our county is well-known for our seemingly tireless volunteer force, but over time, people do become tired. The pandemic has made it more challenging for some of our volunteers to step up when they’re trying to stay home, but has also created an even greater need for helping hands to support our vulnerable friends and neighbours. Meanwhile, society has changed over the years so that even if a household has two adults in it, both are likely working – sometimes more than one job – while also tending to the other stresses of adult life. But, we also know our community has grown, and there might be people new to the area who want to immerse themselves in a fun role that will offer them a social connection while also giving back to their neighbourhood.
This year, we’ve done something a little different with our annual National Volunteer Week section. Instead of focusing on a few groups and highlighting the many ways in which they contribute, which we try to do year-round, we’ve put together a directory of quite a few of the local groups looking for help in some way.
While it doesn’t name every group in the county, the listing includes a wide variety of organizations making a huge impact on this community in different ways – truly, something for everyone, whether your interest is in helping kids, adults, animals, the environment, leading organizing efforts, or working behind-the-scenes. Some groups need someone who can offer an hour, or participate on a casual basis, perhaps with one event a year, some are looking for someone looking to make more of a commitment who want to keep life post-retirement filled with valuable work. Maybe you’ll find something for yourself, or someone you know, or a neighbour you can rideshare with, on that list. (The directory starts on Page 10.)
What is true regardless which of the fabulous groups and organizations you choose to call, is that no matter who you are helping, or in whatever small way you can offer assistance, you will feel better for having done it, and the community will only thrive because of your effort. If you find yourself with a few minutes to give, say yes to something. To those who already have, we thank you and appreciate you this week and every week.