This is National Volunteer Week, a time to celebrate the dedication and selflessness of volunteers, across the country, and in our communities.
The irony is the theme chosen for this year: “It’s time to applaud this country’s volunteers.” Very appropriate, when all we can do is applaud, virtually, since there are no gatherings or celebrations to recognize those who do so much for their communities.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a community that thrives with the aid of volunteers, and also does an exceptional job of recognizing its volunteers, with two long-standing traditions of awards from the Chamber of Commerce and from the Town.
Of course, we can never say thank you often enough to all the fine men, women and youth who give up their time to make this amazing community an even better place to live, work and play.
In every segment of society, the arts and cultural organizations, the schools and churches, the sports associations and service clubs, volunteers help every step of the way, for the benefit of their friends, family, for all of us.
But this, of course, is a different time. Volunteers are not able to do what they would normally be doing, because nothing about our lives these days is normal.
What we are finding, though, is that volunteers by nature never seem to quit. They seem instinctively to gravitate toward avenues of assistance, always find a way to help out, something else that needs to be done, somewhere to pitch in. We are witness to that in this great community every day, learning about new initiatives to help get through these difficult times, by making and distributing masks and other protective equipment, going shopping for and delivering groceries for those who can’t go out, delivering flowers to provide a bit of cheer on dreary days, offering virtual activities — finding all kinds of very clever ways to make our days a little easier.
To all of you who volunteer all year round, to those who are thinking of ways to improve the situations of your friends and neighbours during this time, to all of you who are finding ways to help in your community, to provide some cheer during anxious times, thank you. We applaud you. Virtually.
Finally, from Lord Mayor Betty Disero during her Monday evening update: “I want to express our gratitude to the thousands of volunteers we have in Niagara-on-the-Lake who really are the essence of civic pride and community-building in our town. It is their daily efforts that make NOTL cleaner, more vibrant, friendly, bring music, arts and culture to our soul, feed us, keep us company in times of need, take us to places and spaces that are important to us, and keep those places and spaces special for us.”
For Volunteer Week, the Town is asking NOTLers to nominate a local they know doing amazing volunteer work to help people through this difficult time. Send in their names, along with the details of their volunteer work and a picture (if you have one) to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Town will be naming names on social media throughout the week, to give thanks to the dedication of these individuals.