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Celebrating the 12th Annual National Volunteer Week

Volunteer-Week-2015-637x176We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill.

This annual celebration of volunteers runs from April 12 – 18. It’s a time to recognize, celebrate and thank Canada’s volunteers. But, what should you consider before jumping in as a volunteer and what unexpected benefits might you accrue from giving up your time and your expertise?

Here are three things to think about before you volunteer and three ways you might benefit.

  1. sierraVolunteer for something you wholeheartedly believe in. This may sound obvious, but people often get pushed into volunteering, or worse ‘guilted’ into it. Make sure you are volunteering for the right reasons. If you are concerned about climate change, or the recovery of BC’s Grizzly bear population, it might be better to volunteer to work with Sierra Club BC than for one of the health related charities. If you adopt children then consider helping out at the Adoptive Families Association of BC by sharing your knowledge and experience. Your options are almost endless and if you choose right everyone will be a winner.adoptive families assoc bc logo
  2. Volunteer where you feel you can contribute the most. I volunteer as an advisor with the ICE (Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship) at UVic because I feel I can offer young people, starting their first business, a lifetime of business knowledge. In the past I volunteered with the Victoria Symphony because I could share my corporate sponsorship experience, and I love classical music. It’s interesting to note that Accent Inns has both the Kamloops and Okanagan Symphonies as community partners. And so it goes, I try to volunteer for organizations I believe in, in roles that will benefit them most.
  3. The last of my three things to consider is to choose both a cause and a role that you will enjoy. For all concerned, the more fun you have the more you and the cause will benefit.

amsn-volunteerSo, what about unexpected benefits?

  1. Giving back feels good; it actually makes people happier. Studies have shown that people who volunteer are up to 16% happier! Not only that, it can actually relieve depression. Helping others can truly help you – it gets you out, it gets you active, and it helps you build a support group of your own.
  2. Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet people with similar interests to you. Friendships made during volunteering can be the most enduring and valuable. Not to mention that you are also continually building your contacts list.
  3. Learning new skills is another added benefit. There are always more jobs to do than people, so you can often be in a position where you have to push yourself in new directions. Typical areas might include: project management; supervision; public speaking; customer service, the list is endless. The advantage of learning new areas of expertise while volunteering is that you will have support while you learn and of course, you can’t get fired!

There are many more things to consider and benefits to be gained by volunteering and I’m sure you could add many more to my lists. Remember, it’s good to take a step back and consider if we are the best fit for an organization and whether our talents are being used to their best advantage.

If you are a regular visitor to Accent Inns’ blog then you might want to check out their community partners page (  – I guarantee each and every one of them will be looking for volunteers and will welcome you with open arms!

Mike Wicks
Douglas, YAM and Salt Magazines