Sunday, 6 April 2014


Volunteer Stands Out From The Crowd.
This is National Volunteer Week - a time set aside to recognize and honour the volunteers we know. As a retired executive-director of a non-profit, charitable organization I know first hand the value of volunteers. Charities simply couldn't do all they do without this valuable resource - as a matter of fact, I don't believe many of today's charities would even exist without them. In Canada, 47% of Canadians aged 15 and over volunteer more than 2 billion hours a year, estimated to be worth well in excess of 30 billion dollars. Many more hours are given by volunteers in unofficial activities, such as Sunday school teachers, parent helpers at school, the teenager who helps an elderly neighbour, or like one of my featured volunteers in Quilting for Others. This blog is about being frugal - can you think of a more frugal contribution to society than the one made by volunteers?

My way to honour volunteers is by highlighting the contributions made by a few of the volunteers I know. I've asked them to tell their story in their own words so here they are, listed by initial in alphabetical order.
Our mission:
Project Linus is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization. It is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of NEW, HOMEMADE, WASHABLE blankets and afghans, lovingly crafted by volunteer blanketeers.
Contributed by A.
"A brief history on how we organized a chapter in Kitchener/ Waterloo. My friend and I were watching Oprah one day when we heard of an organization called 'Project Linus'. A lady from Colorado, who was on the show, decided providing security blankets to children traumatized by some event in their lives would give some needed comfort and so Project Linus was born in the US and eventually spread to Canada.
We decided this was something we could do and after receiving the needed information on how to start a local chapter, we raised awareness through local radio and TV stations, press releases to newspapers and pamphlets distributed through local yarn stores and other retail outlets. We soon had  hundreds of blankets at our doorstep. We then sewed on labels 'Made with Love by Project Linus'  showing Linus clutching a blanket. The blankets were donated to local hospitals, the Children's Aid Society and a Women's shelter.
After it became well established I moved from the area, but my friend carried on for a few years by herself. She has since also retired, but not before turning the project over to a husband and wife team.  It was really rewarding for us when we did this.....and it's still going strong!"

To date, more than 2,000 blankets have been donated to the Kitchener/Waterloo chapter. For more information, click on the link:
Sometimes volunteering just happens, like when a group of friends meet for coffee and decide they would like to make a difference.

E tells about her involvement with QUILTING FOR OTHERS.
"This is an unofficial group that came about when a few of us church women were brainstorming about getting involved in doing something for others and 'Quilting For Others' is what we came up with. We started in Sept. 2007 and since we're all members of the same church we're able to meet every other Wednesday morning at the church. At one point we had 10 ladies in the group, but a few have since left so now we're looking to recruit some new ones. We each pay a loonie every time we meet and that goes into the pot to buy new material. We also receive material from church members, as there are always people who have some unused fabric laying around.

The quilts are donated to the Women's Interval Home, a safe haven for abused women where they can stay with their children until a more permanent plan is in place.
Sarnia Hospice has a quilt on each bed and after someone dies, that quilt is washed to be re-used; however, at that time there is a short ceremony with the family and staff, and a new small quilt is presented as a memento to the family.
Quilts are also sent to mission groups working in the Dominican Republic and in Zambia through church connections.
Other quilts are given to our own seniors in nursing homes; the Children's Aid; and our local Hospital.

We are a very sociable group, with lots of talking and laughing going on all the time. I don't know who gets the most pleasure from what we do, the quilters or those on the receiving end. Both I guess. I know that for me this is a very satisfying project, one I'm proud to be connected with." 
I was very impressed with our local BfM Thrift store, and since I know the past National Chairman, I asked him to provide a brief description of his involvement. I've actually written a post about our local BfM in the past to which you can link here:  BfM Thrift Stores

Our Purpose:
Serving to spread the Word of God worldwide in partnership with Bible League Canada.
BfM Foundation Canada was organized in 1989 after the Executive Director of the Canadian Bible League, along with two other gentlemen from Chilliwack, BC, returned from a trip to India, realizing they needed to find a sustainable way of raising funds in order to continue to meet the need. This eventually led to the BfM Thrift Stores.

This is what L writes: "I became involved in 2003 at the local level and was a delegate to the national convention in 2006, where I was elected to the National Board as Chair. My first duty as chair was to set aside a day to  meet with a facilitator for an intense review of the organization and to establish a long-term business plan, which we then gave to our executive-director to put into action. This resulted in dynamic growth of the organization.
BfM has stores operating in every province except Quebec. In 2013, through our 44 stores, we raised $7.5 million, of which only 10% was used for administration. Up to 5,000 volunteers, from many different denominations, provide the staff support needed for stores' operations.
My job as chair consisted mainly of leading, encouraging, and facilitating at the National level, but also providing support to local boards in such areas as purchasing facilities and store start-up. We've made many changes to policy, some to meet new Revenue Canada guidelines, but others due to increased awareness that we needed to provide stronger guidance to local groups in such areas as health and safety, fire escape plans, accounting practices, etc.
I traveled extensively across Canada to carry out my duties as chair and to attend many annual meetings at which I was frequently speaker for the evening. I have since retired, but will always look back on my time with BfM as a most positive and gratifying experience".

The pictures show a church in a remote area. Top, exterior view of the church; centre, the interior view and bottom - a worship service.
For more information about BfM Canada, click on this linkBfM Thrift Stores
This next gal was one of the volunteers that I could always count on in the organization I managed. She was also my Provincial Conference buddy and, though I've since retired, she remains a friend to this day.

Here N. tells her story:
"What does volunteering mean to me?  To me it means an opportunity to help someone in need.  
I have been a St. John Ambulance volunteer for more than 30 years, first becoming interested at the ripe old age of 15 years. I had met some members of the Owen Sound division and liked what they were doing …helping people who were sick or injured and needing assistance. I couldn’t wait to join!  Unfortunately I had to....until I was 16. As soon as that happened I was certified in First-Aid and finally able to join my “heroes” in the line of duty!
Responding to a car rollover at the stock car races.
SJA First Responders provide first-aid coverage at community events, including hockey games, lacrosse games, horse races, stock car races, moto-cross races, fall fairs, trade shows, fundraising walks/runs, concerts, and more… and I've covered all kinds.  I've had times I knew I had given someone a better chance of recovering from injuries and also a few times I hoped I had been able to act fast enough. 

St. John Ambulance honours its volunteers and I have received many awards, all of which I appreciated but two stand out:
1.Being admitted to the Order of St. John at National Headquarters in Ottawa. The Governor General of Canada, Ray Hnatyshyn, presented me with the medal admitting me to the Order of St. John as Serving Sister.
2. Being promoted to Officer of the Order of St.John. This presentation took place in Toronto where Hillary Weston, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, presented me with the Officer medal.  
These investitures are something to see. Its an awe inspiring sight to see the Knights of St. John parade into the church venue of the investiture. All that's required are the shields, swords and horses to be transported back to medieval times where the organization has its roots.

I have held most positions in the organization, up to being Divisional Superintendent, plus I've also been First-Aid/CPR instructor. I continue to cover events all over Grey/Bruce and will certainly miss it when I do eventually retire. I've met the most incredible people through my experiences with SJA and made many good friends among co-members, people I have helped, event organizers and participants. All in all, very satisfying work!"

For more information click on the link St. John Ambulance, Canada
I'm glad that we have National Volunteer Week to remind us to honour and recognize volunteers for their contribution to a more caring society.
If you enjoy these posts, please share them with your social media friends.

Talk to you again next week,


Volunteer standing out from the crowd - Image courtesy of jscreationzs /


  1. Volunteering is a wonderful and important thing to do. Sincerelely wish more people would volunteer.

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  3. I've been wanting to volunteer at a hospital sometime. Doing admin work. I just can't seem to get the time to do it. I very thankful for those that volunteer. It's much needed.

  4. I volunteer at our local animal shelter and it is so rewarding. I will also bring them blankets and beds. They needed a scanner for tracing dogs through chips and bought them and I got a write off.

  5. Volunteering has always been a part of my life, in one way or another. Thanks for this informative and thoughtful post.

  6. Kudos to all the Volunteers who devote their time to causes. We are lucky to have those people who have the time to devote to others. Thank you for reminding us just how important and special these people are.

  7. Thank you for sharing such great stories and publicly recognizing these volunteers! I too worked for a volunteer organization and I didn't realize the extent of the community service projects they were doing. We reported the monetary value to local officials because money talks. But what they are giving to their communities is more than that. They're filling a need, helping others, building relationships, and growing hope.

  8. Lenie, useful as always. I would probably have guessed you would have a strong volunteer capability. Thanks for sharing

  9. What an inspiring post! I've always thought project linus was a neat idea. This is a great reminder to appreciate those who make a difference in the world, and ask ourselves what could we be doing?

  10. I remember volunteering in college and it did make me feel pretty good. I want my kids to volunteer as soon as they are old enough so that they will learn the value of helping others. great post

  11. Hi Lenie,

    Being a volunteer also rewards you with greater life experience and the richness of spirit knowing that you've done well for others. My wife and I have volunteered so many times and places we have lost count, from orphanages in Brazil to gutting houses in New Orleans, from senior centres to the hospice centre and church activities.

    It just feels so good to contribute!

    Kind Regards,

  12. Volunteering is a very special gift. Those that give their time should be commended.

  13. I used to volunteer a little in school. I haven't done much since. I need to change that asap.

  14. Hi Lennie; thanks so much for telling me about this being national volunteer week. Also, thanks for using th event to spotlight several very worthy organizations. Keep up the great work, max

  15. What a great list of heroes you have here. I worked in a charity for over five years and we had and needed more volunteers than staff. We had about 8000 volunteers doing amazing work that ranged from Meals and Wheels to visiting companions working with seniors. I never cease to be amazed at the generosity and kindness of volunteers.

  16. Wow enriched your life has become not only through the experience of volunteering, but the like-minded people you have met through those experiences....from the ones who help, the ones who have been helped. Wonderful of you to remind us how there is no such thing as too many volunteers and opportunity is everywhere.

  17. I have volunteered with The Kidney Foundation's Peer Support Program, a crisis hotline, and my mom and I were weekend managers sometimes at Ronald McDonald House in London. We wanted to give back, after my family was so warmly welcomed and helped by them when my brother and I were sick as children. My brother and I were both given quilts when we were in hospital. I appreciate everything volunteers do to help, having been on both sides. Great post. I have been wanting to write about some of my experiences. I didn't realize it is National Volunteers Week. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  18. I used to volunteer to walk dogs once a week, but fell out of the habit. We still donate to the local humane society, but it would be nice to volunteer again. I just need to take that first step to get started again. I have a cousin who makes fostering Chesapeake Retrievers her life. I admire anyone who can foster dogs only to have to part with them.

  19. My post this week was about the Hawaii Quilt Guild, so the fact that several of your volunteers are involved in quilting projects resonated with me. It takes quite a bit of time and effort to complete a quilt. It's all the more valuable when a volunteer is the quilter, adding love.

  20. I agree that volunteering is very important. For two years, I had my students work with the Books of Hope program. They created an idea for a book that had a positive message, wrote, illustrated and published the book. The final product of the books were sent to a school that we sponsored in Uganda. I was so proud of them and the efforts that they made to help others.

  21. I love volunteering. My kids do it as well and they love it. We volunteer at several places and I have been volunteering at my kids schools for many years. Great post.

  22. There is a day for almost everyone. Glad to see volunteers were not left out. Kudos to all those who do volunteer. I have done it myself and I know how important it is.

  23. I enjoy volunteer work. Such a great way to give back to others. Thanks for this encouraging and inspiring post!

  24. Hello
    I'm glad to know about National Volunteer Week. Volunteers help others who are in need and sometimes can not afford much . I am really happy that Canadian government honor all the efforts by volunteers.
    When I was doing my mater I went to remote area near my campus with other group members to teach students of nursery and grade 1. This is only thing I have done , I wish I could do more.
    I have experienced most devastating earthquake of Kashmir in Oct 2005 hitting with magnitude 7.8.
    Many volunteers and organizations rushed from throughout the world to help every person . Then I came to know about the real work these people are doing. They saved a lot of lives.
    I am really happy to read about stories of different people, how they are helping in their capacity. It surely brings a wonderful feeling and peace in return.
    Thank you so much for such a nice and though provoking post.
    Finally I opened link from my email and it worked.
    Happy Saturday.

  25. It has been a great while since I've done any volunteering. It is such an important part of many non profit or charitable organizations and their ability to function. You give me cause to revisit that again. I do enjoy it so I need to look into doing so again. :-)


I want this blog to be interesting, informative and current. Your comments let me know if I'm on track, so comments are greatly appreciated.
Thanks - Lenie