Building Your Community through Volunteering

From April 6-12 Canada will be celebrating National Volunteer Week! This is time to recognize the incredible efforts of our community volunteers. Volunteering is a great way to contribute and meet new people. Non-profits and community organizations of all sorts depend on volunteers to help deliver their services.

Donating time and working for free can be a difficult concept to understand for those new to the idea. You might ask: What’s in it for me? Why is it important? Many programs and services offered in your community would not be available without volunteers. When you volunteer you will meet new people, learn about your community, and learn new skills. You can gain Canadian experience, gain a reference, and improve your language skills.

Volunteering can be formal or informal. Formal volunteer work requires you to complete an application, attend an interview, or get training first. Informal volunteering might involve meeting others to help with an event and does not require training.

You can learn about volunteer opportunities through friends, family, teachers or coworkers. Look in newspapers, community papers, bulletin boards, and check online resources such as HRM Volunteer Services, Charity Village, and Kijiji. The library and Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia can also provide useful links. It’s important to keep in mind that not all organizations offer volunteer opportunities – it’s best to do your research first. Employers often do not offer volunteer opportunities.

If you want to volunteer in your community here are a few things to keep in mind for a great experience:

Time Commitment:  Be aware of how much time you can offer as a volunteer. Be honest when speaking with an organization or group about the amount of time you can give – there are opportunities to fit everyone’s schedule.

Location: Consider what area in the community is easily accessible for you. Often organizations offering volunteer opportunities are not able to cover transportation costs for volunteers. Choose an opportunity which you know you can reach easily by your preferred way of transportation.

Your Interests: Is there something you always wanted to try? Do you have a passion? Volunteering provides an opportunity to build on your skills or try something new you think you would enjoy. Ideally it can be both!

Get involved in your community! Try something new or share your knowledge with others, volunteering is a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

We would like to thank the (over 800!) people that are registered Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia volunteers. We couldn’t do it without the generous donation of their time and efforts. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, please visit www.isans.ca.