Those looking to get off the couch and volunteer in Niagara-on-the-Lake have a place to do it as of last summer.
The Town’s Volunteer Talent Bank was created in August of 2017 by the Community Engagement Committee “to continue to invest in the skills and talents within our key volunteer sector,” as per one of Council’s Strategic Plan priorities.
Victoria Steele, community engagement coordinator at the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, explains the process: “Anyone wanting to participate can visit the Town’s website and fill out their contact information,” she said.
“Organizations, community groups, companies, and committees can also go to the Town’s website and fill out a brief form to explain the volunteer opportunity. The Town acts as the go-between.”
As volunteer opportunities are submitted, a staff member emails the details to everyone who has subscribed. Those on the mailing list receive all opportunities that are sent out but only have to respond if they’re interested and available.
Interested people contact the organizer directly to ask questions or to sign up.
People of all ages enlist, from high school students looking to fulfil their mandatory volunteer hours to college students and older adults looking for extracurricular activities. “It’s also a great way for new residents to get a sense of what takes place in the town and to meet new people,” she said.
Opportunities for volunteering come from all across the community, and include committees looking for members and events looking for people to assist in any number of ways. The only criterion for those looking for volunteers is that the opportunity or event must take place in or service NOTL.
Steele says there has been an excellent reaction to the volunteer requests. “One group’s posting was emailed out and within 15 minutes the group called and asked for another email to be sent out announcing the opportunity as closed because they had already received an overwhelming response.”
A Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair was held at the Community Centre in April of this year. Approximately 30 groups seeking volunteers attended, along with 120 people looking for volunteering opportunities. “The event was a great success and we hope to make it an annual event,” says Steele.
Coun. Betty Disero, a member of the subcommittee that created the talent bank, says, “Niagara-on-the-Lake is blessed to have an active community that cares so much about the town that all one has to say is ‘we need help’ and residents reach out to lend a hand. It is community engagement like this that keeps our town the best place to live.”