Charitable organizations in the city need people to give of their money, but they couldn't exist if people didn't give of their time. Here are some places to get involved:
The IWK offers an array of volunteer opportunities. From volunteering in playrooms, to working at the information desk, to cuddling babies, there seems to be a role for almost any preference. Regularly active volunteers must be 18 years old and have finished high school, but there are also great volunteer opportunities for students.
Alex Davis, 17, is a youth volunteer and a member of the Youth Advisory Council at the IWK. He started out as a child patient and later returned as a youth patient. Now he returns during the summers "to speak up on behalf of the youth patients" and to give his time. Davis usually works at the information desk or in the play garden. "Volunteering has changed my life," he says. "It changes everyone's life. I used to be such a shy kid and it's just changed me."
Davis has gained so much confidence that through his role in the Youth Advisory Council he now speaks out at conferences and was involved in a video to promote awareness of how hospital staff should interact with youth patients. "When you think about the IWK, it's a really child-centered place," he says. "I want to open people's eyes that youth patients also come; not children, but not adults either."
At Feed Nova Scotia, more than 700 active volunteers make up the hours of almost the equivalent of 22 staff, says executive director Dianne Swinemar (see "Thought for food," page 16).
The Red Cross is another major organization with volunteer opportunities. Gaju Karekezi has been volunteering with one specific aspect of the Canadian Red Cross mission for the past two years. Even Wars Have Limits (EWHL) is a facet of the Red Cross that focuses primarily on humanitarian issues and international humanitarian law, especially regarding conflict zones.
"It's an advocacy group," says Karekezi. "We educate people about issues relating to conflict, we look at the impact on refugees and child soldiers and we focus on promoting awareness about ways to minimize impact on civilians and innocent people in war zones."
In addition to these organizations, the HRM has a list on its Housing and Homelessness page with a list of potential places to volunteer. Organizations such as the YMCA also have a wide variety of local opportunities to donate time and skills.
How to donate time
For an application form call 470-6692 or check out is.gd/iow3k.
Feed Nova Scotia
Prospective volunteers need to attend a volunteer information session---check the schedule at is.gd/ioz82 for the January dates.To give time over the holiday season, phone 457-1900.
Even Wars Have Limits
Contact the Red Cross Humanitarian Issues Program at 133 Troop Avenue, Dartmouth, phone 424-1419 or email HIP_Halifax@redcross.ca.