Like so many other not-for-profit organizations, volunteers are at the core of our success, angels working by our sides giving their time and energy and yet asking little in return. Without them, our literacy program would look quite different, and it would be challenging for us to provide customized, one-to-one tutoring for the adult learners in Hamilton and share so many success stories. But why do people volunteer and what are the benefits?
It was incredible to read from a report from Stats Canada that Canadians have given over 5 billion hours towards volunteer activities, this is equal to over 2.5 million full-time year-round jobs. Volunteering has a long history in Hamilton, and it has become crucial to enlist volunteers in order to maintain critical services. The good news is that the 52% of people in Hamilton volunteer, this is more than the national average! (*statistic from volunteerhamilton.ca). There are various reasons that people have for deciding to volunteer: to get involved in the community, supporting a cause that has impacted them personally, using their experience and skills to benefit others, networking or making new friends, career advancement and religious beliefs, to name a few. By volunteering, you can be an inspiration to others, to help bring about positive change and make the world a better place. It can be hard with our busy lives to find the time to volunteer but the benefits can be tremendous and often surprising. Volunteering can help improve your mental and physical health – giving a sense of purpose and keep you mentally stimulated. It can be a chance to meet people from other cultures and backgrounds, expanding your knowledge, compassion and understanding of others. We feel happier when we are helping people, and it can take the focus off our own problems and put situations into prospective. Volunteering has also been shown to fight depression, reduce stress, combat anxiety and anger issues. It can also increase one’s self-confidence and bring a sense of joy and excitement to your life.
I spoke with a few of our volunteer tutors to ask what volunteering means to them. Maureen expressed her thoughts, “Volunteering is an opportunity to meet and learn about others in the community and to share my skills.” Mustafa summarized his desire to volunteer as way to keep society healthy and accepting of immigrants. He also feels that supporting education and providing adults with the skills to succeed will help immigrants become an integral part of the community. One of our students also donates her time to volunteer, at a thrift shop. She loves helping people find what they need, enjoys interacting with new people and likes that this activity keeps her busy.
Each year our organization shines a spotlight on a tutor who has shown their passion and commitment working with their student, helping their student build on the skills they have and work towards achieving their goals. It’s a chance for us to thank them and celebrate their contributions. This year, in December, closer to the holidays, we will announce our Tutor of the Year on our website so be sure to check back in and join us in congratulating them.
All of our tutors receive training before they begin the process of being matched with an adult student. Currently we are looking for volunteers to sign up for the two-day workshop, the last 2 Saturdays this November. Tell your friends, your family, neighbours, colleagues – if you are already a tutor, then you know what a wonderful and meaningful opportunity it is to work with your student. Share your enthusiasm and encourage anyone who you feel might be a great addition to the HLC team and who could find a rewarding experience along the way.
We are so grateful for our volunteers, including our Board of Directors who have given us guidance and support that has been especially appreciated throughout the pandemic. A big, heartfelt THANK YOU!