CANADA CELEBRATES 75 YEARS OF NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK

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Canada celebrating 75th anniversary of National Volunteer Week 

How will you give back?

2018 marks the 75th anniversary that Canada has celebrated National Volunteer Week. First organized in 1943, it was initiated to celebrate women’s volunteer efforts to support the war effort. Since then, Canada’s volunteer movement has exploded. Now close to 13 million Canadians contribute over 2 billion hours each year to more than 170,000 non-profit organizations across the country. That’s the equivalent of 1 million full-time jobs. The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 15 – 21, is: “Celebrate the Value of Volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community”.

Create a life that feels good on the inside. Work hard and help others. 
How true. Ask anyone who has volunteered and they’ll tell you that they receive far more than they give. There’s something almost magical that happens when you volunteer. Volunteering provides so many positive benefits. It increases confidence, self-esteem, social connections and lower rates of stress, depression and even blood pressure. It simply makes you feel good. Researches have coined the effects the happiness effect. 
 
 
“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” Kofi Annan, Ghanaian Diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner.
 
Extraordinary things can happen when you join with people who share your passion for causes you believe in. Consider some of the recent volunteering phenomena like Me to We (founded in 2008 which now supports and raises millions for 7,200+ local and global causes) and the most recent activist volunteer movement of NeverAgain MSD started just months ago in February to pressure the U.S. Congress to introduce gun control reforms. These are just two of countless examples of volunteer-initiated efforts that are helping to change the world. Much like a job, getting the most out of volunteering requires that you do your research to find the right opportunity that matches your skills and interests. Here’s a few websites to help get you started. 
 
Find the best volunteer opportunity for your skills and interests 
Volunteer Canada (https://volunteer.ca) is a great place to start. With boundless resources and a link to provincial associations of volunteer centres across the country, the site also offers a fun interactive quiz to help you pinpoint what type of volunteering opportunity suits you best. https://volunteer.ca/english/questions.html 
 
Take your skills abroad
Interested in volunteering abroad? There are lots of organizations that will help you coordinate a trip abroad to countries in South and Central America, Africa or Asia, paired with meaningful volunteer experiences. It’s a great chance to learn about another culture and country while giving back. With a database of 800 international volunteer organizations and 3,500 program reviews, they’ve done the research to find top volunteer abroad opportunities. The volunteer work I do with Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) has enabled me to learn so much about the incredible spirit, hope and resiliency of the Haitian people. To help you find and fund your volunteer abroad trip, check out Volunteer Forever (www.volunteerforever.com).

Learn more about volunteerism in Canada 
If you want to learn more about the volunteer sector in Canada, check out Imagine Canada (www.imaginecanada.ca). Given the huge impact that volunteers have in Canadian society (with 2 million Canadians working for non-profits and charities, representing over $135 billion), it’s becoming one of Canada’s biggest areas for job growth. If you’re thinking of a career in the non-profit sector, check out Charity Village (www.charityvillage.com) which posts job opportunities in the volunteer and non-profit sector. All charities need expertise in such areas as events management, fundraising, communications, finance, project management plus many others. Charity Village also offers learning and training sessions and webinars to advance your skills. 
 
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
We all have skills and we all have interests. And when the two come together and you’re able to make a positive difference, it feels amazing. Whatever your interest is, somewhere, a charity needs your skills and passion to help them. Why not step up and give back? Trust me, the experience will forever change you for the better.
 

Do you volunteer? Why and how? How do you feel it has impacted your life? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.

 
xo Natasha

RECAP: 26 Hours of Kindness 2018

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SHOWING AND GIVING LOVE FOR 26 HOURS OF KINDNESS

This past Wednesday the NKPR team joined forces to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a meaningful way- by showing and giving love to Toronto communities. This year we really wanted to focus on the homeless population, especially as this winter has been one of the coldest on record! We focused our efforts to volunteer at four amazing organizations: St. Felix Centre, Good Shepherd Ministries, Sistering, and Ve’ahavta. Together, their services work to support individuals who are battling very real issues in Toronto (and all over the world), including homelessness, addiction, malnutrition, mental illness, and so much more.

The FWords Podcast also taped an episode in the St. Felix kitchen during the lunch service, where we talked with Brian Harris, Executive Director of the St. Felix Centre, as well as the Ve’ahavta Outreach Worker, Andre Hermanstyne. Stay tuned for the episode airing next Tuesday, February 20th!

St. Felix Centre | 25 Augusta Ave.

We were welcomed with open arms to help prepare lunch and dinner for visitors of the St. Felix Centre. The first shift covered the 9AM to 1PM lunch service, and from 3PM to 8PM the second team tackled dinner! It was heartwarming to see the gratitude of the staff as well as the individuals who came in from the cold for a warm meal!

Learn more about St. Felix Centre here.

Good Shepherd Ministries | 412 Queen St. East

We lent our support to Good Shepherd with sorting and boxing food for many individuals and families that use their services on a regular basis. Their staff typically serve 1200 meals a day on average! On top of hot meals, they also provide clean clothes and a safe, clean bed for those in need.

Learn more about Good Shepherd Ministries here.

Sistering | 962 Bloor St. West

Sistering offers multiple services in an aim to help at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. We joined the strong women who dedicate so much of their time to supporting Sistering.

Learn more about Sistering here.

Ve’ahavta | 200 Bridgeland Ave D.

Ve’ahavta (Hebrew for “and you shall love”) works to promote positive change in the lives of people of all faiths who are marginalized by poverty. They offer a hands-on approach to supporting their mission of tikun olam (repairing the world). Even just these translations demonstrate how beautiful it is to help and love others! We offered our support by collecting items for their street outreach team to help make daily essentials more accessible to Toronto communities.

Learn more about Ve’ahavta here.

It was honestly such an incredibly grounding and rewarding experience to give even just some of our time to help these organizations. It also served as an important reminder that there are so many people who desperately need our help on a daily basis. There is an estimated 235,000 people who are homeless in Canada annually, with 35,000 estimated to be homeless on any given night. Those are only two statistics that help shed light on the reality of homelessness in Canada. We’ve pulled a few m0re shown below that help provide an understanding of how this affects so many people. Realistically, these individuals could easily be our peers or friends, and we may just haven’t noticed the signs.

  • 150,000: Approximate number of people who access emergency shelters in Canada annually.
  • 50,000: Estimated number of people who are “hidden homeless” — defined as those without homes of their own who lean on friends or family for shelter — on any given night.
  • 4 million: Number of bednights, defined as nights during which a shelter bed is occupied, each year across Canada.
  • $105.3 million: Amount the federal government spends annually on the Homeless Partnering Strategy, which is designed to prevent and reduce homelessness.
  • 82,380: People who found more stable housing as a result of the Homeless Partnering Strategy.

We encourage everyone to learn more about these amazing organizations, and how you can lend your support. You can make a big difference even in a small way by just donating your time. Imagine what the world could look like with a little more kindness!

A huge thank you to everyone who came out to join the #NKPR26 team. Checkout our Instagram highlights (@natashankpr) to see more from our third annual 26 Hours of Kindness initiative!