Is volunteerism waning in rural B.C.?

People volunteering for local initiatives is imperative; Marisca hopes young people step up

Last week I wrote two articles that made me think about where volunteers are going. I talked with some ladies of the Ladies Auxiliary at the legion about their group getting older and needing new faces to join their team. These women support the local branch in carrying out its work on behalf of all veterans and their dependants. They raise about $10,000 a year for the Smithers Legion. This is important work that helps out the community but some of the ladies are now in their 90s and the small group of women need more people to help out.

Also, last week a Telkwa business person was acclaimed to the village council in their recent byelection because he was the only one who put his name forward to run. Small town councillors don’t get paid very much, are often blamed for things they do or don’t do, and it is very time consuming but it is an important job. And someone needs to do it. Luckily one person stepped up to a fill the vacant seat. (In the last municipal election in Telkwa, all four village council candidates ran unopposed and were acclaimed.)

I’m not saying there aren’t any volunteers anymore. I think this community is full of people who give their time and energy to a lot of different causes. But a lot of people I’ve talked to say that a few people do a majority of the work. If you need something done, give it to a busy person. But when will these busy people burn out? And will the next generation be as actively involved in volunteer work as previous generations? Especially small, rural communities need people to step up. There are many events that happen in Smithers because people make it happen and don’t get paid for it. The small businesses here donate a lot of money and in-kind goods and services so this community can thrive. I hope this continues and I hope residents are appreciative of this.

The bigger question is, how can we raise the next generation to not only give, but want to give? Most high schools have implemented mandatory volunteer hours. In school, we had to volunteer at least forty hours or we couldn’t graduate. Is forcing people to volunteer really volunteering? Maybe the thought process was to set the stage and grow volunteers. It isn’t a bad idea, it is just too bad it has to be forced. I’m not sure there is a better way. I just hope I can raise my children to understand the importance of giving back and be active members of society. I know the best way to do this is to set an example and be a good role model. Maybe this Christmas season is a great time to start showing my four-year-old how to give back.


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