When you volunteer, you’re showing people that they matter

We are still thinking about the great insights our keynote speaker and panelists shared at The Spirit of Volunteering event that took place Thursday, April 11.

Keynote speaker Lindell Smith shared his story as a young man in Halifax’s North End. For him, volunteering really started when he noticed things that he wished would improve (for example, community amenities that were missing or in disrepair), and then taking initiative to bring attention to those issues. Flash forward to today, Smith is a City Councillor for District 8 Peninsula North, where he has the ability to work with organizations and volunteers to strengthen the North End community. A key message of Smith’s speech was about how increasing volunteer involvement can open doors and create opportunities.

“When you give up your time, ‘the one thing you can’t get back’, you’re showing people that they matter,” said Smith. Volunteering means you’re willing to dedicate your time and invest in people who, in many cases, you don’t even know. This is the underpinning of community building – individuals and families who are willing to invest in other people and in their larger communities.

Panelists Annie Doucette (Potlotek First Nation, NSCC Student), Praise Mugisho (ADAM, College Sainte-Anne), and Saeed Al-Zhoubi (ISANS) echoed many of the same sentiments that Smith shared, in an engaging panel discussion on the theme of “Why volunteer?”

They each shared their own experiences with how volunteering helped them develop skills and competencies, and how keeping a record for their experience, helped them find work in those fields later on. More importantly, all three panelists agreed that volunteering has helped them find a passion and purpose in building community. “I can give back to my community, I learn from others, I lead in my community, I have found my passion – building resilience, sharing joy,” said Mugisho.

Al Zhoubi, who immigrated to Canada from Syria, shared how he was able to learn English through his volunteer work, and become a leader within his community and the volunteer community at ISANS.

Doucette spoke about how she started out being “volun-told” to support community events in her home community in Potlotek First Nation. It wasn’t until later that she realized she loved doing it!

We’d love to take a moment to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to our many dedicated and irreplaceable volunteers, to all those who came out to the event on April 11, and to the Halifax Public Libraries for their support. Take a look at photos from the event below!

If you have inquiries about volunteering please contact volunteer@old.isans.ca.