We all know someone whose life has been touched by a volunteer. Perhaps someone who had the opportunity to take part in sports and athletics; whether in a local park, or in Vancouver at Canada’s Olympic Games – Games that would not have been possible without thousands of dedicated volunteers. Or maybe someone who needed help, and found it at a community food bank, where volunteers sort and distribute donations. And, of course, we all live in places made stronger by the civic spirit created by like-minded citizens, joining together to accomplish something that will make them, their families or their community better off.
That spirit of volunteerism has a long history in Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighted one of our earliest, and most famous, volunteers – Laura Secord, whose warning played a major role in stopping the American attack at Beaver Dams. And that spirit is still very much alive today.
The people who volunteer do it for their communities, or to make someone’s day a little better. They don’t do it with any hope of recognition. All the same, we should do our best to recognize at least some of Canada’s hard-working volunteers.
That’s why I encourage you to think about someone who is making a real difference in our community. Perhaps a community leader who organizes solutions that benefit families throughout the area, a business leader whose enterprise supports its employees in volunteering with local charities, or a social innovator whose creative solutions solve problems and meet social needs. If you know of someone, please nominate him or her for a Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award at www.pm.gc.ca. Nominations close on October 14th.
The awards will be given out across the country, including three regional awards in each of Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, and British Columbia and the North. There are also two national awards, one to recognize a lifetime of dedication and achievement, and one to recognize and encourage an emerging leader. The awards also offer practical support. Each regional award winner will be able to direct $5,000 to help a non-profit organization carry on its work, and both national award winners will be able to direct $10,000 to the organization of their choice.
Our communities are better, safer, livelier places because of volunteers who work in countless ways – from neighbourhood watches to children’s athletic leagues – to make them that way. Let’s seize this opportunity to give some of them the recognition they deserve.