That’s the Scoop – All volunteers deserve thanks and value

Richard Froese,
Reporter,
South Peace News

Volunteers are the foundation of a strong community.

Their service to the community to support projects, programs and facilities saves municipalities time and money.

True and caring volunteers do what they do from their heart, not to get special honours and gifts from their community. They volunteer because they love their community, they love people and they want to make life better for those they serve.

Communities will soon honour those special servants during National Volunteer Week set for April 19-25.

Many communities and organizations host annual volunteer-appreciation receptions.

Some hosting organizations welcome all volunteers to an event to celebrate all volunteers, no matter how much time they served or what they did.

When I worked at the Falher Smoky River Express from 2002-08, I usually covered the volunteer-appreciation night hosted by Smoky River Family and Community Support Services. Penny Fox was the executive director at the time and said no volunteers should be singled out, no matter how much time or how small their role seemed.

The event usually drew up to about 200 volunteers from all over the region for a light lunch.

Volunteers are thanked by local community leaders. They are encouraged by an inspirational speaker. All volunteers go home happy and appreciated for serving their community, eager to keep going and maybe even do more.

Receptions in other communities are more selective and exclusive. In those cases, hosting organizations ask for nominations for a number of volunteers who are invited to a catered meal. Selected volunteers receive a certificate of appreciation for their service and time.

Sometimes volunteers get a package of a few small gifts.

However, that often causes concerns and problems.

When municipal councils talk about the event at their next regular meeting, some members express concerns they hear from volunteers left out.

Council members have said some volunteers spoke to them and oppose that concept.

Many volunteers ask why they weren’t invited for all the volunteer work they do.

Yet others who are nominated have done significantly less volunteer work, they say.

Some council members recommend all volunteers be invited to a reception.That way, no one is left out or feels less valued, less appreciated.

When communities and organizations struggle to recruit volunteers, why be selective in honouring those who serve? Why turn it into a competition and single out volunteers like selecting a sports all-star team?

When appreciating and honouring volunteers, create an inclusive community, not exclusive.

The appreciation event is a time to celebrate and thank all volunteers for their time and effort in the past year.

Some communities present annual special awards to one or two volunteers for decades of dedication and volunteer service to the community.

Sometimes it’s in the form of Female Citizen of the Year and Male Citizen of the Year.

They deserve greater honour for their longtime service and strong leadership that have built a pillar in the community.

Usually, the recipients are selected by a committee which reviews a number of nominations. Some earn higher honour for a life of committed service to their community, province and country.

All volunteers deserve to be honoured and thanked in a fair and balanced way.

Those who serve with no thanks may wonder – why volunteer?

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