Why We Exist
My name is Ryan, I’m 15 and I go to St Martin De Pores. I have been actively volunteering for 6 years through associations like Volunteer Airdrie, Ronald McDonald House, Airdrie Boys and Girls Club and Brown Bagging for Calgary’s kids.
The first time I volunteered I was 8. My mom brought me to an event at her Gap store, we were selling hot dogs and hamburgers to raise money for their lunch program with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids. I spent my day asking people if they wanted to buy a lunch, and how one lunch for them equaled 5 lunches for kids in our schools.
Back then helping other people wasn’t the reason I volunteered, I volunteered because it was fun and I was hanging out with my family. Which in my opinion is the biggest reason for youth to start volunteering. Even for myself – only until recently did I look at volunteering as not only a way to have fun but to help people.
Once I hit the 7th grade I started volunteering on my own, mainly with my school. My best friend Justin and I were the tech leads in our student council at OLQP. Every day we’d volunteer our lunch hours and spare time where we ran our school We Day Program, built a school in Haiti and much more. I am proud to say we ended up raising over 10 000 dollars as a student council to build a school. Because of my volunteering at school I was nominated for the Junior Leaders of Tomorrow Award by my Vice Principal.
My family and I were invited to the Propellus Gala dinner where I was recognized for my volunteering. The part I remember most about the evening was meeting fellow award winners and hearing their volunteer story. And how it felt to tell my own.
Only until recently has volunteering for me turned into helping people while having fun – instead of having fun while helping people. Even if the difference between the two may seem small, it is actually massive and here is why.
When a person is having fun while helping people; they are volunteering to have fun and they just end up helping and it’s as simple as that. But when a person realizes that they can actually help people while having fun, they will find the true meaning of volunteering.
Volunteers are needed in every community in an informal capacity, like helping your neighbours, and formal capacities to keep organizations up and running. According to the City of Airdrie’s Social Needs Assessment survey in 2014, only 32% of Airdrians currently volunteer, compared to 47% nationally and 55% provincially.