It’s amazing how one thing, one person, or a team of people can have such an immense and lasting impact on your life. For me, that thing happens to be volunteering. It’s more than a way to get involved, to get to know my community or to connect with others. It’s a way to help, it’s a way to give back when I’ve got so much, and it’s enriched my life in so many ways – more than I can count. That’s why I am so delighted to share more about my volunteer experience, as well as the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. This truly special award recognizes the valuable contributions of caring volunteers who accomplish so much yet ask for so little in return.
As for me, I’ve been involved in volunteering in a wide variety of areas, from festivals and events to youth programs and not-for-profits. That said, the program that I’ve been part of the longest (and you may remember me mentioning before) is my experience with Forum for Young Canadians. Forum is a non-partisan program that allows high school age students from all corners of Canada to come to Ottawa and engage with Canadian politics and public affairs. I was initially a participant in Grade 12 and I had such an incredible time. I was so inspired by getting an insider’s view of how things work in our nation’s capital as well as by engaging with people my own age on issues important to us and to Canada. The program left a lasting impression – I was determined to share that experience with others
I first came back as part of the logistics team in 2005, helping out with all of the behind-the-scenes action that makes the program run – from organizing room set-up, escorting students on visits to Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court, and Rideau Hall, to photographing the various sessions, to training Polling Clerks and Deputy Returning Officers in our mock election, to acting as master of ceremonies for talent night, to helping to organize and run a formal dinner with program sponsors and Members of Parliament at the Chateau Laurier, and so much more. Through it all, I've worked with many teams of absolutely phenomenal volunteers.
One thing about volunteering is that you often end up working with interesting, engaged, caring and like-minded people. The people I've met volunteering have become some of my very best friends (Looking at you #lifeohlife crew!), have helped me network, have helped encourage me in my career, have supported me (and others) – and all of this in addition to supporting the work of a not-for-profit and program that we hold dear.
I think that’s why I so appreciate the idea of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. It recognizes the contributions of these valuable, wonderful, humble people – “individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation”. These are the often-unsung heroes who work tirelessly to help others, to the betterment of their communities, their country, and all who come in contact with them. I don’t know about you, but I could rattle off a lengthy list of volunteers who would be deserving of this award, and certainly a nomination (which you can do here in 3 simple steps). I truly feel that this is a wonderful way to honour Canadians who have given so much to others.
Want to know more? You can find all of the details about nominating a deserving volunteer that you know at caring.gg.ca.