Last week was National Volunteer Week in Canada, and a time to give appreciation to everyone who volunteers in their community.
Volunteers are absolutely essential to the functioning of Salt Spring Island, with registered charities, schools, government agencies and all kinds of not-for-profit bodies relying on them in large measure.
While having enough people to service particular programs or groups has always been an ongoing challenge, some recent indications are that it’s becoming harder than ever to gather the human resources required to make living on Salt Spring as fulfilling as it can be.
For example, an Earth Day celebration that has taken place in Centennial Park for the past several years will not occur this year due to a lack of volunteers.
The library has also had difficulty filling its huge volunteer roster, which has led to the hiring of another half-time staff person from its own requisitioned funds. (The library has never received all of the money taxpayers authorized in the 2009 referendum.) Reducing library hours would naturally lower the quality of life for many on the island, since the facility is such a well-used and beloved community hub.
Salt Spring Seniors Services Society, which operates a number of programs based from its Lower Ganges Road centre, has put out a serious call for board members to step up in time for its AGM next Wednesday, and to provide other programming.
Sadly, Salt Spring was also unable to maintain its Volunteer Salt Spring website service and support group that evolved from it, so the island no longer has a one-stop shop for people to investigate volunteer opportunities. One option for getting a sense of all the groups that use volunteers, though, is in the Parks and Recreation Guide published last week.
With many newcomers to the island in recent years due to active property sales, a pool of potential new volunteers should be out there waiting for a chance to share their time and talents.
Volunteering is a signature part of island life. We encourage everyone to make some time for it in their schedule, even if it’s just a small commitment.
Thank you to all islanders who have volunteered in the past year. You have indeed made a difference.