Volunteers help shape our city

This column appeared in the Burlington Post on June 8 2011 and is available online at http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion/columns/article/1023202–volunteers-help-shape-our-city

June 8, 2011

What makes a great community?

During the preparation for the Strategic Plan, your new council had the opportunity to connect with almost 900 community organizations.

A number of these groups presented their vision directly to council and many others completed and submitted a workbook with their organization’s thoughts.

Others completed an online survey.

While a number of the insights provided by community groups focused on specific support needs, many also focused on the very broad-based needs of the community.

These organizations provide much of the support, advocacy, social opportunity, and cultural and sport-related experiences that make Burlington what it is. We continue to be inspired by the ongoing dedication and caring in the community. Many of the programs delivered to the community through these organizations are done through the efforts of volunteers.

In our community we see inclusivity in volunteerism. All ages, faiths and cultures participate. Youth has a place and the Province of Ontario recognized just how critical their contribution could be when the high school graduation requirements were changed to include volunteer hours. Volunteering is recognized as a component of citizenship.

Volunteering provides personal fulfillment — we become fully engaged in our community, we meet new people and we make new friends.

The more we give, the more we receive. Volunteerism is everywhere in Burlington and is clearly one of the most important contributors to our quality of life.

Burlington offers many different opportunities to volunteer. The variety of organizations, causes, programs and events requiring volunteer activity is so broad that most of us can contribute to something that we are passionate about or that is of genuine interest. We can contribute based on how much time we have available, a little or a lot, we can contribute our experience and knowledge to help others or we can help by doing the little things that can make life better for all of us.

I would like to thank the many volunteers that make our community what it is — a great place to live, work and play.

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” – Anonymous