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FCSS hosts one-stop event for volunteering

On Friday, 15 volunteer organizations were on hand to answer questions and meet community members interested in volunteering at the first annual Volunteer Fair put on by the Cold Lake and District FCSS.

COLD LAKE – An inaugural Volunteer Fair run by the Cold Lake and District FCSS on April 21 is hoped to be the first of many more such events.  

“I would like to see this event grow bigger and better,” said Leanne Draper, an FCSS staff member who works with Volunteer Services. 

"We have already outgrown the space in our first year. We had every intention of putting out a nice variety of carnival games, but we had to give those up, which I'm happy about because I'd rather put out tables with people and organizations than have a couple of games.” 

Being it was the first year of the Volunteer Fair, organizers weren’t sure what to expect or how many volunteer-based groups would participate. 

Friday’s event had 15 volunteer groups attend and demonstrate what their organizations are all about for prospective volunteers and community members. “We were just thrilled with the turnout,” she said. 

While it is important to have volunteer organizations attend, Draper acknowledged it is also important to create opportunities for community members who are interested in volunteering. 

Both generally and anecdotally, Draper said FCSS has noticed a decline in the number of people volunteering. This trend has been heard from local community groups as well. 

“That sort of perception of the decline of volunteerism is what prompted us to look to creating an event that would promote volunteerism and show the community all the great volunteer organizations that they can spend their time with,” she said. 

The Volunteer Fair and events that promote collaboration have large impacts on the community and the benefits are twofold, she said. There's a benefit for the public and for potential volunteers. 

"It gives them the opportunity to see what type of volunteering is out there and to find out which organizations have volunteer opportunities to best match their interests,” she said. “And for the organizations, it's a fantastic opportunity to meet each other, to share information and resources. It's an opportunity to propose partnerships.” 

Combating a decline in volunteerism 

Describing how a community can combat a decline in volunteerism, Draper listed three ways people and organizations can shift how they approach volunteer recruitment. 

“The first is modelling with your kids. If you've got a young family, look for volunteer opportunities that involve your kids because they're going to be the next group of volunteers and volunteer leaders,” she said. “Family time is precious... So volunteering is the time you can be spending with a family, while doing something positive, creating memories and benefiting the community.” 

The second element has to do with networking. 

"We need to network because I find that some of my volunteers who work with my programs have many interests. So, if I can make a referral to them to another organization, you'll find that volunteers tend to be busy in many different groups.” 

The last way to improve volunteer numbers is to create more opportunities for the public to connect with volunteer organizations, such as the Volunteer Fair. 

“It’s important to put a face to a name. To see how fun these organizations are and the impactful work they do,” Draper said. 

Jazmin Tremblay

About the Author: Jazmin Tremblay

Jazmin completed a minor in journalism at Hanze University in the Netherlands and completed her Communication Studies degree from MacEwan University with a major in journalism.
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