Transforming through volunteering
“Volunteering is a two-way street,” says Noriko, a YWCA volunteer and Single Mothers’ Support Group (SMS) participant. “It certainly provides me with some benefits such as expanding my network, improving my skills and giving me a sense of accomplishment and belonging.” Kathy, who is also a volunteer and SMS program participant couldn’t agree more. She finds that she gains so much more through her volunteer work. “I am helping myself while helping others!”
According to Statistics Canada's 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, about one-half of Canadians contributed their time, energy and skills to groups and organizations. This volunteer work benefits not only to the organization but to Canadian society as a whole and to individual volunteers.
Both Kathy and Noriko, who help the SMS program with its quarterly e-newsletter and event planning, agree that there are enormous benefits to volunteering:
- Give back – people volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, from the altruistic to the self-interested. Regardless of the reason, volunteering is good for your physical and mental health. Noriko explains she wants to give back to the YWCA and since she started volunteering for the YWCA and other organization, she feels more connected to her community and happier.
- Connect with others – meeting people is also a good reason to volunteer. You’ll be able to connect with people who have the same values and interests. “I’d like to encourage other moms in our groups to volunteer if they can. You get so much more from volunteering – meet new people and have exciting experiences,” says Noriko.
- Gain skills – while volunteering, you can improve your skills and gain new ones. This experience can be added to your resume and many employers look favourably upon volunteer experience. For Kathy, she was able to improve her writing skills which helped her with work outside this group.
- Bring satisfaction and joy – doing volunteer work you love can be fun, energizing and fulfilling. You will feel motivated because you do things you love. “I enjoy my [volunteer] work and get the satisfaction of knowing that the e-newsletter we put together has information and resources that are useful for other single moms,” says Kathy.
“Volunteering is fun and rewarding,” says Noriko. “With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer but I would certainly recommend people to consider being a volunteer. You can gain so much – for yourself, your family and your community!”
Tessa Russel, the SMS Program Coordinator says, “Volunteers support the YWCA across many our programs and services, and volunteers’ commitment such as Kathy and Noriko makes a big impact in how we run our single mothers’ program. Thank you to all our single mother volunteers. Their above and beyond duty commitments are invaluable!”
YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Group connects single mothers in the community for peer support, resource and information. To learn more and join the group located in 15 different locations across Metro Vancouver, visit ywcavan.org/singlemothers.