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Celebrating volunteers throughout the region

Local NewsCelebrating volunteers throughout the region

County of Brant, Six Nations of the Grand River and Brantford residents will have the opportunity to recognize the hard work of volunteers from across the region during National Volunteer Week, which is April 14 through April 20, 2024.

National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate every volunteer and each contribution they have made to strengthen inclusivity and wellbeing in communities across Canada.

Kari Astles, President of Brant Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators, explained the value and importance of volunteering.

“Over two and a half decades in the field of volunteer engagement I have heard the phrase “I’m just a volunteer” or “I didn’t really do much” on so many occasions. I always take the time to remind volunteers just how big of an impact they are really having,” said Astles. “I really like this quote from Mother Teresa ‘We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’ We are reminded that volunteer contributions, no matter how big or small, help us to build resilient and vibrant communities. We would not have the impact we do without the cumulative efforts of so many caring and committed volunteers. We thank each one of you who chooses to volunteer your time in big and small ways all year long. We are better together.”

Photo courtesy BScene.

While volunteering has a positive impact on the community, it is also good for your health. At its core, volunteering is about building social connections. 

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen the significant impact a lack of connection had on the members of our community, resulting in a decline in mental and physical health, particularly in older adults. Volunteering your time regularly helps you stay active physically, mentally and socially,” explained Astles. “We often hear from volunteers that they started volunteering because they wanted to make a difference in the life of someone else but that they ended up getting out of it as much or more than they put in. Volunteers report an increase in positive mental health because of their efforts.”

Astles went on to explain that the Brant Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators (BRAVA) is a local organization designed to support volunteers and volunteerism.

“Many people may be surprised to know that we have a local organization called the Brant Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators, which has been connecting community leaders in volunteer engagement since 1988,” Astles said. “Through monthly meetings, networking and professional development, leaders of volunteers in our community come together to strengthen the network of volunteerism. BRAVA encourages any organization in Brantford and Brant County that engages volunteers in the mission of their organization to reach out at www.bravabrant.com to learn more about how they can join and enjoy the benefits of membership, including professional development, networking, volunteer recognition events and awards, as well as a community-wide volunteer fair.”

For those who may be wondering how to get started with making an impact, it’s easier than you may think. 

“One of the best ways to get involved is through word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends and neighbours. By talking to people who already volunteer you will get a firsthand account of the importance of the work they do and the positive impact it has on them and the organizations they serve. If you don’t have people to talk to then a simple Google search online for “volunteer opportunities near me” is a great starting point,” Astles explained.

The BRAVA website also has links to member agencies that engage volunteers, check out the listing and see what impact you could have as a volunteer with one of these organizations https://www.bravabrant.com/memberagencies

“If you are not already volunteering, we challenge you to make 2024 the year you get involved because small contributions from many committed people grow into huge impact for our community. Help us to make Brantford and Brant a beautiful community in which to work, live and play,” concluded Astles.

Thank you to all of the sponsors for supporting the volunteers who make our region an amazing place.

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