Greater Sudbury is home to thousands of people who volunteer their time day in and day out to make their community a better place in which to live.
However, there are potential volunteers in this city who face a number of barriers that allow them to fulfill their volunteering endeavours.
People with disabilities, mental illness or even social anxieties are hesitant to put themselves out there, because they don't know what to expect, said Alanna LaHay, program manager, Volunteer Sudbury.
That's where the Valuable Volunteer program comes in. It's a three-year program that kicked off last year, and helped more than 90 people in Greater Sudbury get matched to a volunteering opportunity.
“This is an opportunity for Volunteer Sudbury to offer enhanced support with the goal of reduce social isolation in the community,” LaHay said. “It targets people with barriers such as disabilities, mental illness, and social anxieties, and we give them support so they feel confident going out and volunteering.”
Volunteer Sudbury staff will sit down with potential volunteers in a one-on-one setting so they better understand the processes they might encounter, and provide tips and tricks that will make them more successful volunteers.
“We want to get to know these potential volunteers on a more personal level, so we are better able to match them to volunteer opportunities,” LaHay said.
On top of the barriers they may face, many of the people this program will help aren't even sure what they want to do as a volunteer, LaHay said.
“We get to know their comfort level and their confidence in volunteering so we can match them with an opportunity that will let them grow, instead of putting more barriers in their way.”
The program has two years to go, she said. The goal this year is to match 155 people to their ideal volunteering opportunity.
“In January alone, we were already at more than 45 volunteers matched,” LaHay said. “Now, we're really trying to make sure the community knows about this service, and that it's completely free for them.”
Some of the people who take advantage of the program are just looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity for an event of some kind, while others are looking for long-term commitments, LaHay said.
“We also get groups come in that are looking to volunteer together, so we work to find something that is meaningful to them.”
For more information about Volunteer Sudbury and its program, visit VolunteerSudbury.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-560-6661 and say you're interested in the Valuable Volunteer program.