In every story I write about non-profit and charitable organizations in our communities, it almost goes without saying that I could add the line “The group is always looking for volunteers; for more information contact X” without having to ask.
It’s no surprise that these groups are looking for people to help out. Many of the volunteers who support them are getting older, but there are few younger people joining the ranks, meaning that membership is dwindling, and those who remain can find it difficult to keep things going.
The most recent example of this is the decision by the United Church Women in Ashcroft to disband after many years. The half-dozen or so ladies in the group were simply unable to continue, so made the difficult decision to wind things up. Without new people to help, other groups in our area might well go the same way.
Now, I understand that the United Church Women is not a group for everyone. However, there is no shortage of organizations covering a wide range of activities and interests in our region, and I suspect that most people would find at least one of them that aligned with their own interests and skills.
Here in Ashcroft alone, and off the top of my head, I can think of Lions, Rotary, Soup’s On, the HUB, the Legion, the Christmas food hamper program, the Terry Fox Run, WRAPS, and the fall fair, all of which could do with more volunteers helping out. Some of these are year-round; others are seasonal. Even a few hours of someone’s time would be a benefit.
Over the last two months I’ve been part of a group of volunteers working to put on Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. All the cast and crew members have been logging their hours, and while I haven’t seen the total, we must be getting close to 3,000 hours between us. Hard work? Yes, it is. But we all do it because we love what we’re doing, and are pleased and proud to know that our efforts will translate into a theatre production that hundreds of people will enjoy.
And we do it because it’s fun. More than one person has shown up to a rehearsal tired, or ill, or conscious that they have a million other things to do; but being with friends and sharing a laugh or two soon makes everything else recede for a time. Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Volunteering is also a great way for newcomers to our communities to meet new people. More than one person involved with our theatre productions joined up because they were new to town and wanted to meet like-minded people. It’s always amazing to see how quickly these newcomers become a part of our WRAPS family.
Everyone seems to be more pressed for time than ever these days, and that’s understandable. Perhaps some groups need to re-think the way they do things; instead of the tried-and-true “one meeting a month” model, they could move to bi-monthly meetings, and have volunteers working on specific projects on their own time rather than fidgeting through a meeting that they don’t want to be at.
Grab a copy of The Journal that contains the Community Groups ad and cast your eyes down it. If a particular group catches your eye, get in touch and offer a few hours of your time. I guarantee you’ll be greeted with open arms.