Making a difference

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Volunteers are important threads woven through the fabric of a community. They add strength and vibrancy. St. Albert is richer for the thousands of volunteers who give of their time and talents to enrich organizations, causes and individuals across the city.

Many city events like Rock’N August, the Snowflake Festival, and the Children’s Festival would not exist without volunteers. Dozens of volunteers toil in St. Albert Botanic Park through the seasons to make the park the vibrant jewel it is. These and other volunteer efforts enhance our community in ways that draw visitors who contribute to our local economy.

Volunteers also create a more resilient community by helping seniors, victims of crime, hospital patients, and those struggling with bereavement, mental or physical challenges.

The St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre does its best to connect volunteers with satisfying positions with a myriad of organizations. On Saturday CIVC marks its 10th Anniversary Volunteer Fair where potential volunteers can make direct connections with more than 50 local groups and agencies. It is an opportunity to ask questions, to match your skills with agencies looking for your time and talent.

“The fair is a one-stop shop of sorts for people who have the time, the talent and the interest to give back to the community,” said Glennis Kennedy, director of volunteer services for CIVC.

Volunteering provides benefits to agencies and to the economy of a region. One TD Economics study estimated the impact of unpaid efforts on the Canadian economy at more than $50 billion a year.

While the economic benefits are important, the greatest impact from volunteering may be intangible. There is the benefit to the people who enjoy the services or help. In addition volunteering also creates real value for volunteers. There are the warm feelings you get when you know you are helping someone or some cause. You can make new friends and benefit from the mentoring of people with more experience than yourself. Studies show that people who volunteer benefit from a sense of purpose, greater social interaction, and better mental and physical health.

Volunteer work can also provide tangible benefits for people who want to develop new skills, or gain experience for future paid work. Volunteering can also be a testing ground in an individual’s area of interest before deciding to devote money or time to further study or training in a particular field.

Many Albertans are giving by nature. Statistics Canada figures from 2013 show that 50 per cent of Albertans over the age of 14 volunteer their time, higher than the national average of 44 per cent.

To those volunteering their time, we salute you. For those who are interested in giving back, there is no better opportunity than this Saturday’s Volunteer Fair. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in our community.

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St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.