National Volunteer Week

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This week is National Volunteer Week (NVW) on April 21 – 27, 2013. Volunteer Canada is the national voice on volunteerism in Canada since 1977.  This year’s national theme is “Volunteers cast a beautiful shadow”. Volunteerism and civic participation of all ages is promoted through programs and special projects.  

A bit of history – “NVW began in 1943 to draw attention to the vital contribution women made to the war effort on the home front. Although NVW was largely forgotten after the war ended, it experienced a revival in the late 1960s, when organizations stressed the importance of thanking volunteers across Canada. NVW was reinstated and has since grown to become the largest celebration of civic participation in Canada”. (Source

Some statistics – According to the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) findings, 13.3 million Canadians over the age of 15 participated in volunteering, an increase of more than 800,000, since 2007.  Canadians contributed 2.1 billion total volunteer hours. The 2010 volunteering data also found that young Canadians consistently volunteer more than any other age group. Canadians aged 15 to 24 have a volunteer rate of 58 per cent. This is a trend seen in the CSGVP since 2004 - younger people have volunteered more than any other age group. According to the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, with more Canadians retiring earlier, post-work years are becoming almost as long as work years. As a result, many Canadians are discovering the fulfillment and satisfaction of volunteering after 50 years of age. 

In a study commissioned by Volunteer Canada, Manulife Financial and Health Canada, Dr. Neena Chappell, Director of the Centre on Aging, University of Victoria, examined the links between

volunteering and health. According to Dr. Chappell, “People who give their time to a volunteer activity, especially if it involves helping others, are happier and healthier in their later years.” In addition she suggests, “volunteering is a people to-people business. A lot of benefit comes from being in touch with others and having an impact on their lives.” This is precisely the recovery model adopted by MDAO’s valued volunteers. 

The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario’s (MDAO) volunteers make a tremendous contribution in communities across Ontario by allowing anyone who has a mood disorder (depression, anxiety or bipolar) to receive free support and advice through its peer facilitated groups and programs. As volunteers, you are integral to the organization. Each of you, are part of making our communities resilient and our country vibrant. MDAO is celebrating its volunteers this week hosting an appreciation event being held at the ING Café at 221 Yonge Street, Toronto, on Thursday, April 25, at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. (Thank you ING Café and its staff for donating your premises for this event.) The guest speaker is Christopher van der Hoff, comedian and entertainer. At the event we will be presenting the “Lit from Within” award to a volunteer who has been nominated for outstanding leadership, creativity, and innovation in contributing MDAO’s programs and activities. The winner will receive a prize of $1500 and a plaque.   

Now in its 71st year, NVW is all about volunteer recognition. During NVW we take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers at MDAO.  That’s each of you in every area and activity of the operation – Peer Facilitators, Phone Support/Reception, Research, Office, Special Events, Speaker’s Bureau, Students, Stop the Stigma Committee, Gala Committee and Board members. You  all “cast a beautiful shadow” – Thank You!