It was an honour to be invited to speak about volunteerism at the Southwest Edmonton Seniors Association's (SWESA's) annual volunteer appreciation event last week! In speaking to this group, I referenced my mother's influence in my desire to give back to my community:
Now that I’m also a mother, I’m seeing her influence in the actions of my daughters, and I couldn’t be more proud. My youngest daughter is three and just last month, her daycare provider told me about how, during a walk, Adele insisted on picking up the garbage that was littered through the park that they were walking through. When the dayhome lady explained that it wasn’t their garbage, that they should leave it, my daughter apparently looked at her with extreme disdain, the way only a three-year-old can manage, and was certainly not dissuaded in her efforts to clean the park. That’s from my mother. My mom brings a garbage bag with her when she walks the dogs to pick up after others. Because it’s her park. And her community. And she will will take responsibility, without being asked. And my kids are following suit.
And like you, she volunteers with seniors to help offer support and community to a growing segment of our population.
My mother does all of this without fanfare, without much official capacity, because providing service and connection and support within her community is central to how she lives her life. She thinks it’s all no big deal. But I disagree - I think all of the volunteers in all of the communities are a big deal.
Hubs like the North Edmonton Seniors Association, like the St Albert 50+ Club, or like SWESA, provide invaluable services to seniors in the community. When you greet someone in the centre, or on the phone, you might be the first person they’ve talked to that week, or the first person who has smiled at them that month, or the first person who has cared enough to listen to them and offer program recommendations ever. You might be behind the scenes, researching program opportunities, or finding funding resources, so that your community hub can grow and thrive - and so people can make those connections that foster healthy communities, and healthy lives. Those are all critically important volunteer roles.
There are about 30,000 people over 55 in this part of the city, so the potential for impact, for building community and offering services that keep people healthy and connected is tremendous for this organization - and those connections don’t happen without volunteers like yourselves.