Why I Volunteer | A Peek Inside the CFOW
by Sue Lawther
I have been humbled and inspired by many people I have had the honour of meeting throughout my life’s journey. As I left high school and started university, I knew it was important to balance my life with other activities but in the ‘swinging sixties’, volunteering was not one of the activities I focused on even though there were marches and protests and endless community involvement opportunities available through campus organizations.
I continued to balance my life in other, much more ego-centric ways.
One of my good friends even set off with her new husband after university graduation to take on non-profit work in Tanzania, so goodness knows I was surrounded by such opportunities and it was not through lack of exposure that I did not embrace volunteerism in my life’s activities at that time.
Well … that good friend returned from Tanzania and we raised our children together in the same neighbourhood in North Vancouver. She continued to remind me of volunteer opportunities, and I continued to balance my life in other, much more ego-centric ways. After many years of being weekenders, we both made the full time move to Whistler in the early ‘90’s, and yet again, she exemplified volunteerism by becoming involved in WCSS and the RE-Use It Centre as well as the Community Foundation of Whistler. And yet again, I did not embrace volunteerism and focused on family and career.
And we would sit in her "English Country Garden". . . Sipping Tea by the Rose Bushes.
That good friend was my mentor, my role model, my lifesaver on occasion, and continued to always be there for me throughout our years in Whistler. We even had our retirement all planned out … I would at last retire from my career and start volunteering, and we would sit in her “English Country Garden” in Isobel McLaurin hand-painted Adirondack chairs, sipping tea by the rose bushes.
But life had another plan, and that good friend passed. During her brief illness, I would often ask, “What can I do for you?” One day she said “You can help me by helping others in our community; by making volunteering a priority rather than something you will do ‘someday’. Do it for me but most of all, do it for you.”
So while I would like to be able to say that my volunteering is completely selfless, truth be told, I do it as much to heal myself as to serve my community. Good friends are hard to come by, and I hold her close in my heart always … it was a privilege and an honour to know her and I miss her every day. I have grown to love my volunteer work in Whistler, just as she knew I would … the rewards flow both to me and, I hope, to my community. Embracing her goals and incorporating them into my own, I now volunteer for non-profit organizations that work to allow people to be (re)connected with their community and to improve the health and wellbeing of this amazing ‘village’ we call home.
We all have the potential . . .
We all have the potential to change and help our community, no matter what our age. I urge everyone to find a way, and no way is too small, to get involved. I only wish I had listened to that good friend earlier in my life … who knows what we could have done together? We would have been a force to be reckoned with, I think!
Image: A Pemberton Community Garden Rose by Lisa Severn
Are you ready to start volunteering?
The Community Foundation of Whistler runs Whistler's Non-Profit Network. Joining a meeting is a great way to get to know the non-profit community and find out where your interests and talents are needed the most.
Everyone is welcome at our monthly meeting. Please come and meet everyone at the next meeting.