It's not surprising that young people are Canada's most active volunteers, representing about 66 per cent of those who give their time for a cause. Time is, after all, on their side. But our country's volunteering numbers might surprise you. In 2013, 4 out of 10 Canadians volunteered, putting in 1,957,000,000 total hours. This week, National Volunteer Week, we celebrate them, while also asking: How do they do it?
For every tragic incident in the world today, there are countless more women and men humanitarians -- changemakers -- making the world a better place in their own respective capacities. Light is more potent and powerful in effacing darkness; let's each of us resolve to spread more light around us, in our communities, and throughout our world.
As my professional life blossomed so did the work expectations and long hours that I needed to put into my demanding career. It was an inverse relationship in the making: the more I worked, the less time I had for personal things in my life like athletics, friends and relationships. Something had to give. And sadly it was volunteering.
The moral values of volunteerism should be encouraged. But it is even more important to understand and act on our ethical duties not to cause harm in the first place, or to benefit from it -- through the clothes we wear, electronics we use, food we consume and governments that we elect. Travel can help us to understand the seriousness of these connections. But the urgent work of addressing these harms needs to take place at home. It requires bright, committed, creative, energetic and compassionate people to act on the connections between our everyday lives and injustices in other parts of the world.
Can you imagine suddenly waking up in the middle of the street or at your place of work with no idea how you got there? Can you imagine losing your job or people avoiding you because they're scared of you? These are some of the experiences described to me as a volunteer Administration and Support Co-ordinator at Epilepsy Ottawa.
As the dawn of a New Year begins, many of us are making New Year's resolutions both of a professional and personal nature. From eating healthier to taking steps to get that promotion, individuals around the globe are cleaning up the detritus from 2013 and making new resolutions for 2014. In the drive to create new personal and professional resolutions, we should not forget about resolutions to help those less fortune around us.
We're spoiled. Face it, when the days monumental decision is about which foamy coffee to order, which patio has the best WiFi, or choosing a playlist for a run around False Creek, we're really agonizing over a collection of serious first world problems. Building communities, and supporting the people directly takes boots on the ground, a willingness to get your hands dirty, a get-it-done attitude, and maybe a little voluntouring.
One of my earliest memories as a child was going to Prince's Island Park in Calgary every June to walk The World Partnership Walk. Back then, I looked forward to it because we made it a family affair. I would head down to the park with my family and it seemed that in exchange for walking a mere 8 kilometers or so, I would receive a delicious chili lunch, have a chance to part in some fun activities, get my face painted and even come away with a few prizes (it was all well worth the stickers).
We've all heard the complaints about today's "apathetic" youth, but it's the adults who seem reluctant to step up. We can't help but feel that adults are passing the buck. If we want our kids to make change, they should witness us fighting city hall, building a school or even casting a ballot. If we don't set an example, we are naïve to think children will forge their own paths.