Giving thanks for volunteers

Paul Herridge
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The Burin Peninsula Voluntary Sector Clusters Project had a neat idea for Thanksgiving.

Alma Kenway of Baine Harbour stopped by the Burin Peninsula Voluntary Sector Clusters Project’s table to fill out a card for its Thanksgiving ‘Thank A Volunteer’ promotion in the Marystown Mall Friday. Coincidentally, project facilitator Elizabeth Murphy (seated) gave Mrs. Kenway a card someone had filled out for her after she finished. Paul Herridge Photo

Setting up a booth in the Marystown Mall last week, as people shopped, they were invited to fill out a thank-you card to be mailed or hand delivered to a volunteer of their choosing free of charge.

Elizabeth Murphy, hired as the project’s facilitator in August, acknowledged many volunteers often go out of their way and you can never thank them enough.

“Sometimes things go ahead and you don’t even see the people who actually did the work to make it possible.

“Lots of times, they get frustrated because it seems like there’s more demands on their time, and more sources of frustration than their used to be … and they’re not always thanked for what they do.”

Carried out by the Community Services Council (CSC) Newfoundland and Labrador, the Burin Peninsula Voluntary Clusters initiative began as a pilot project in 2009. It aims to help non-profit volunteer groups in the region connect with each other to help identify and solve common concerns.

Back in May, the project conducted a series of  ‘Community Conversations’ around the peninsula. Mrs. Murphy indicated a report from those events has been finalized and some follow up work will soon begin.

“Sometimes things go ahead and you don’t even see the people who actually did the work to make it possible.” – Elizabeth Murphy

She indicated a major concern identified during the sessions related to organizational planning, such as formation of boards, policies and legal issues.

“We’re trying to put together a series of workshops to address some of those concerns. We’ve also been working on the idea of having an open house for volunteers.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Murphy recognized declining and aging volunteers as well as volunteer burnout and commitment continues to be an issue in the sector in general.

“People don’t mind volunteering to do something, but to decide to be on a board or on something that is long term, it’s difficult to recruit people for that.

“There’s a lot of people who do an awful, awful lot of work. I mean they’re constantly at it, but you have to be able to bring more people in because the job gets to be bigger than it used to be.”

Mrs. Murphy indicated volunteer groups who feel they have an issue that might be common throughout the region can contact her at ‘elizabethmurphy@cdcnl.ca’.

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

Organizations: CSC

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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