Volunteers make a world of difference

We would like to salute all the volunteers in the South Okanagan during National Volunteer Week

This is National Volunteer Week in Canada, a chance to recognize the important role of volunteers in our communities.

But maybe one week a year isn’t enough time to truly recognize the incredible amount of work put in by these helpful people. Even the word incredible may not be a strong enough description — the statistics might come as a surprise to even the volunteers themselves.

The last survey conducted by the federal government shows that in 2010, 47 per cent of Canadians, aged 15 and up, each contributed an average of 156 hours, adding up to almost 2.1 billion hours of volunteer time. That’s roughly the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.

Every day, thousands of people give up their time and their skills to aid the work of thousands of organizations across the country. And with their contribution, work gets done that otherwise might never be. They build homes for the homeless, help out in schools and hospitals, clean garbage out of rivers, coach, you name it. Their work is an extension of being a good neighbour and so much more — volunteerism is fundamental in the making of a true community and volunteers themselves are the ties that binds our community together.

Who are they? They are parents, homemakers, students, retirees, professionals, from every age and cultural group. They are all around us; sometimes though, they are so ubiquitous that they are invisible.  And that’s what makes National Volunteer week so important. It’s a chance for volunteers to get more recognition than just their own pats on the back. It’s a chance for the rest of the community to let them know how much we appreciate them.

And we, too, want to say thank you to all the volunteers, here in the South Okanagan and around the world, who work so hard at making our communities better places to live.