Volunteers are the beating heart of community

Kristen Groen was the recipient of a Lions Club bursary in part because of this essay

The Lions Club awarded five $750 bursaries to graduating high school students who filled out an application and provided an essay on volunteering. Kristen Groen of the Ebenezer Canadian Reformed School wrote the standout essay presented here.

A community isn’t just a group of people living in roughly the same geographical area.

A community is a group stitched together by relationships and acts of care and love by people with different backgrounds, ethnicities and walks of life.

Volunteer work is one of the essential stitches in this working and beautiful patchwork quilt we all live in.

To see the importance of volunteer work, envision a community without any volunteers. No volunteer firefighters, no candy stripers, no volleyball coaches, no Salvation Army or food bank workers, or volunteers who clean up and preserve our natural surroundings.

Think of how devastating the impacts would be to our beautiful community.

Response to fire outbreaks would be slowed, already overworked nurses would be pushed to the breaking point.

Community sports and recreational events would be diminished, if not disappear altogether. Homeless people would not receive many of the services available to them and would also go hungry.

The environment and wildlife would take a hit. Our community would only be filled with people who worked for money, and it soon would fall apart.

We are living in the midst of a history-making crisis. We can see how we as communities need to band together. It is important now more than ever to give back to our communities and ensure that the most vulnerable are kept safe. We owe our communities our time and knowledge and support in order to encourage those who are stressed during times like these, either because of being over-worked or exposed to the possibility of being harmed, either physically, mentally or emotionally.

Volunteer work doesn’t only benefit the person who the work is being done for, but also benefits the doer. As HelpGuide.org, an online guide to mental wellness, suggests, volunteering gives a wonderful sense of purpose and increases self-confidence. Various studies show that volunteering helps you combat stress and depression in a healthy way. It has been shown that a community will thrive under the direction and contributions of its mentally healthy citizens. As the saying goes, “helping others helps yourself.”

Volunteer work isn’t a cure for mental health problems, though. If you struggle, you should reach out and seek help from a doctor.

From actions as small as giving a cup of flour to a needy neighbour so she can bake her award-winning chocolate cake for her daughter’s birthday, to rescuing orphaned bear cubs to help preserve wildlife, to serving soup and sandwiches to homeless people on a Saturday afternoon, giving back to the community is essential to its prosperity. Have you ever observed a group of students cleaning up alongside a littered highway? It is inspiring and makes one want to contribute in some way.

Volunteer work promotes the safety and happiness of others and is an important part of our economy.

So, thank you, to all our hard-working volunteers in the Bulkley Valley. You are a part of the beating heart of our community.

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