Giving back to the community has seen a lot of changes this past year but the one thing that has remained constant is volunteers working hard to do good! This National Volunteer Week, HeartPress #BrokersOfGood is celebrating 22.7 million volunteers across Canada by featuring stories from local volunteers in action. This week we spoke with Don who is a volunteer with The Salvation Army.
Don’s wife Carole has a fashion business that is in its 91st year and they’ve had a Vancouver location for 15 years now. Both Don and Carole moved to Vancouver 6 years ago from Edmonton and were actively involved with a third-stage Women’s shelter in Edmonton for over six years. Carole was also part of the Canadian Women of Distinction program. Upon moving to Vancouver, Don and Carole took a brief hiatus from active volunteering until The Salvation Army called for help last October.
Describe your volunteer role with the Salvation Army
When The Salvation Army reached out last October looking for help, I applied. It was in mid November when I became a Kettle Bell Ringer for five days a week. The Salvation Army placed a new Kettle at our retail location for three Saturdays and invited our customers to participate with us as well.
Did you need any special skills or past experience for this position?
I believe that a skill needed is common sense and being able to say a friendly “Hello” while smiling under your mask. Being able to do so even with the knowledge that people wouldn’t actually be able to see your smile helped a lot in getting donations, as people can see the smile through your eyes!
How did you find out about The Salvation Army and their volunteer positions?
As I was listening to the radio, I heard The Salvation Army’s campaign advertisement, in which they were looking for Kettle Operators. COVID-19 played a significant role in limiting the number of volunteers required to man Kettle locations. Upon hearing their radio campaign, I sent in an email and physically went to The Salvation Army regional office to apply.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
My motivation in volunteering was simply because I knew I had the time and energy to help out. As well, The Salvation Army has had a very positive influence on myself and my family for over 50 years and I truly wanted to give back.
What is something that made you feel fulfilled when volunteering?
There were daily rewards while manning the Red Kettles. For example, I was able to listen to many generations of donors’ stories expressing their positive experiences with The Salvation Army and why they wanted to help out.
It was through my interactions that I realized that there is a SILENT Army of individuals who know and respect the many and varied programs provided by the organization as well.
What were you expecting when you signed up? Did anything surprise you?
Something that surprised me and that I was not expecting was the heartfelt comments and appreciation I received from others such as the Kettle donors. There were always words of encouragement and appreciation, and this is something that made me proud of what I was doing.
What are you looking forward to this next year as a volunteer?
I look forward to working at the Kettles this Christmas Season. I have been so excited that I have been recruiting many friends to work with the program. I strongly believe that my passion and positive experience with The Salvation Army will help me find one or two additional locations and friends to man the Kettles to continue to make an impact in our community.
I cannot finish without expressing my thanks to all the staff, management, and fellow volunteers at The Salvation Army. During this COVID-19 time, with limited in-person contact, they made the Volunteers’ jobs something we could look forward to every day.
As well, The Salvation Army’s reputation and presence has given the community an opportunity for some in-person dialogue with donors, as COVID-19 has greatly restricted communications.
I’m proud and fortunate to have been a small participant in this great program and I highly recommend others to get involved as well!