Volunteerism on the decline in Canada

Mission residents spend hundreds of thousands of hours volunteering

Did you know that the number of youth who reported serving in the community for one hour or more a week in a 2008 survey of 2100 Mission high school youth was 40 per cent?

“The outdated stereotype of the volunteer as an older woman wearing a hat and carrying a basket prevails in spite of the nearly eight million Canadians who look just like you and me and who volunteer each year.”(Linda Graff and Paul Reed).

Silent, yet major shifts are taking place in Canada’s voluntary sector. In fact, research on volunteerism in Canada demonstrates much change in less than a generation’s time. Graff and Reed, two Canadian experts on volunteering state that communities have been built on a foundation of civic involvement, compassion and concern for others from which we are internationally recognized. What does declining volunteerism mean for Mission?

Volunteers are estimated to put in a billion hours of effort annually in Canada, much of this occurring silently. As volunteerism has traditionally been a value in Canadian society, we may take these silent helpers for granted. In Mission, program cuts to nonprofit and community organizations often result in an increased dependency on volunteers. All age groups are positively impacted by volunteers in Mission, including at-risk pregnant women, children and youth, the homeless and vulnerable, to home-bound seniors and elders.

National Volunteer Week has just come and gone. If you are a volunteer or you know one in Mission, congratulate them on their honorable dedication in putting community first and self second. To learn more about community development in Mission, join us May 30 between 7 and 8 p.m. at the Leisure Centre for a community conversation. Children are welcome, snacks and activities will be available. Draw prize includes two Cineplex movie passes, and two popcorns. Please RSVP to Kirsten Hargreaves khargreaves@mission.ca or 604-820-3752.

40 Assets: Helping Children and Youth Thrive is a volunteer based working group in Mission within the District of Mission’s Social Development Program. The Did you Know article series focuses in on results from the 40 Developmental Assets Survey completed in 2008 by 2,100 Mission high school youth. If you would like to get involved, contact Kirsten Hargreaves, manager of social development at 604-820-3752 or khargreaves@mission.ca.