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Volunteers are indispensable

It’s fitting that April is the month that we nationally recognize our volunteers: spring brings to mind images of flowers blooming, new growth and with it, new opportunities. Volunteers in turn breathe new life into non-profit organizations like United Way, providing helping hands, friendly faces, welcoming presence and opportunities for us to reach further and grow more within our communities.

Time is one of our most precious commodities and the decision to donate our time to support an organization as a volunteer should be thoughtfully considered. Some points that may impact your decision could include: your ability to commit, how the volunteer role will match your skill set, what is the readiness of the organization to involve volunteers and does the volunteer role provide meaning to your life and will it create personal impact.


Your ability to commit:  Can I really show up – that is, really take the time to fulfill the expectations of the volunteer role? Volunteers are a serious and essential part of non-profit organizations and the work that they do. If you say you will help, can your truly do that – and be honest about this.

How does the volunteer role match your skill set:  Doing a bit of research about the organization and speaking to people within it should assist in this process. If you find that the organization you’re researching isn’t a good fit, don’t worry, there are plenty of other organizations that could be.

What is the readiness of the organization to involve volunteers: The non-profit world, just like any other business, can be a bit messy at times. Regardless, if they are asking for help, they should have some fundamental processes in place to make volunteers feel valued. Position descriptions, orientation and training processes and some sort of policy or strategy to integrate volunteers into their work should be in place before you agree to donate your time.

Does the volunteer role give some meaning or impact to you personally:  Let’s face it, not all volunteer work is glamorous – sometimes what is needed, is answering phones, greeting people and yes, even stuffing envelopes. But just like any other work, what you get out of it, depends on what you put into it. Making a conscious decision to truly own what you do can make an impact on you and others.


United Way volunteers are indeed indispensable. Most of our organization is composed of volunteers and so we take our volunteers and their roles seriously. We offer several different opportunities that can be intrinsically rewarding to you: organizing a Workplace Campaign, joining one of United Ways’ committees, help us at one of our Special Events, becoming UW Ambassador for our Days of Caring®, contributing your skills to assist us in our office – the choice is yours.

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About the Author

Shelley Gilmore has lived in the Okanagan for over 20 years. She has raised her family here, and has been very involved in the community. She enjoys connecting with people, and is fully engaged in the spirit and energy of our beautiful area.

As the Executive Director of United Way CSOS, Shelley’s goal is to ensure that social and health issues are addressed through collaborations, partnerships, and funding supports.

United Way CSOS remains a focused investor in the social fabric of the Okanagan/Similkameen. 


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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