When you give - you expect to get - it's only fair. But it's what you get from volunteering in Greater Sudbury that makes the experience so invaluable.
On Saturday (Feb. 22) Volunteer Sudbury/ Bénévolat Sudbury hosted its 6th annual Volunteer Fair at the New Sudbury Centre, where they featured 16 local organizations and businesses actively searching for volunteers in varying capacities.
The recruitment-oriented event was designed to facilitate the establishment of meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships between volunteers and Volunteer Sudbury members. To not only support the health of the city and its services, said Alanna LaHay, Volunteer Sudbury executive director, but the physical and emotional wellness of participants.
Since transitioning from the role of program director to executive director in Summer 2019, LaHay said her focus has been focused growing organizational membership as well as establishing working relationships with volunteer centres throughout and beyond Northern Ontario.
The purpose being to increase the number of opportunities for future applicants, she said, as well as improve programming and services, particularly as they relate to youth. Including high school and post-secondary students, she said, who access their services most often to fulfill high school and post-secondary graduate requirements.
LaHay said she has seen significant growth in volunteerism in Sudbury since her time with the agency. The largest demographic being individuals between the ages of 25-35 she said, with students and seniors close behind in numbers.
Most individuals ages 25-35 who use their services are in the process of starting their careers or have recently hit a career milestone, said LaHay. Explaining that volunteering allows them to share the knowledge they have learned thus far, make meaningful connections and help bring about noticeable and positive change.
"They really want to start giving back," she said.
Every year, Volunteer Sudbury indirectly helps an average of 1,000 individuals look for opportunities, said LaHay. This year, they have already serviced upwards of 500.
In addition, LaHay said Volunteer Sudbury's Valuable Volunteer program has helped more than 250 people who identify with a mental illness, disability or any other form of barrier, find meaningful opportunities in the community in the past two years. She expects this number to reach 425 by the end of this year.
Volunteer Sudbury has been able to accommodate this increase thanks to the signing of 33 new partnerships in 2019, bringing its membership from 32 to 65. Membership of which includes the Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer, the YMCA, Greater Sudbury Police Service and the Ronald McDonald House.