WEST SHORE ARTS COUNCIL: Volunteer efforts make communities go ’round

Consider variety of opportunities to lend a hand on the West Shore

Do you volunteer? If you don’t, or if you’ve recently cut back, it probably comes as no surprise that the number of volunteers in Canada decreased by half a million from 2010 to 2013.

With bursting work and family schedules, many people already struggle to find the time for everything without adding volunteer work to the mix.

But we also know that volunteering provides powerful benefits for our neighbourhood and for the people who get involved. Volunteers help build stronger communities and often take a leadership role in shaping and improving the neighbourhoods around them. They enjoy an increased sense of connection to their community and can also benefit from networking and skill-building opportunities that volunteer work provides.

So, what if the real answer isn’t cutting out volunteering altogether, but instead finding a opportunity that works for you?

Volunteer-based organizations are also getting the message that they must to adapt their opportunities to the needs of volunteers today. In 2010, Volunteer Canada released a report recognizing that many volunteers were interested in non-traditional arrangements, such as group activities where they would meet others, positions with some flexibility in terms of scheduling and job duties, and short-term “project” opportunities, where they could contribute to a project and then move on.

Volunteer Victoria has incorporated these findings into the the curriculum of their volunteer management training programs, encouraging local volunteer-based organizations to create these kind of opportunities wherever possible.

If it’s been a while since you’ve dipped your toe into the volunteering pool on the West Shore, take a look at what’s out there – there may be a new opportunity that works for you. Here are a few great local organizations to check out:

• The West Shore Chamber of Commerce is a great place to connect with the movers and shakers in our community through lending a hand at one of their fabulous events. Find out more at westshore.bc.ca/volunteer-or-donate/.

• Four Seasons Musical Theatre has volunteer opportunities for almost all things musical theatre-related, from costume design to choreography. It’s a great chance to meet outgoing people and maybe even develop some new skills along the way. Visit them at fsmtheatre.ca/join/ for more information.

• Looking to serve in a more literal sense? The West Shore RCMP has a volunteer auxiliary policing program (westshore.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/), or you can contact your local fire department for information on joining their volunteer firefighter program.

• Our own organization, the West Shore Arts Council, provides volunteer opportunities to connect with local artists at area events and celebrations. Contact us at info@westshorearts.org for more details.

• Volunteer Victoria is a great resource for volunteer opportunities. Check them out at volunteervictoria.bc.ca/

Johanna Henderson is a volunteer executive member with the West Shore Arts Council and principal with Shelter Creative Services. Find her at johanna@sheltercreative.ca.

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