National Volunteer Week is an initiative of Volunteer Canada that encourages organizations to recognize the contributions of volunteers towards creating a strong, interconnected, and vibrant community. For National Volunteer Week 2023, we are highlighting some of the amazing work that our staff are doing in their communities. In the 3rd instalment of this series, Laura Keller, our Communications Specialist shares about her experience as Co-Chair of the Coldest Night of the Year Committee at Hope House in Guelph.
Tell us about a volunteer experience.
For the past few years, I have been on the planning committee for the Coldest Night of the Year for Hope House here in Guelph. Hope House serves vulnerable people in our community – both unhoused and housed, the employed and the unemployed, those suffering a new, bewildering setback and those dealing with chronic, more complicated issues of poverty. The Coldest Night is one of our 3 major fundraisers each year.
What compelled you to volunteer?
I originally got involved with Coldest Night because, like most people, I could see that the number of people in our community who were suffering had grown. The pandemic hit some people much harder than others and I wanted to do what I could to help. I have continued to volunteer with this committee because I have seen first hand the amazing work of Hope House. The folks at Hope House always say that the opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, it’s community, and they build that community every day. And this committee in particular is such fun to work with. We spend a good portion of each of our meetings laughing!
Describe the feeling volunteering gives you?
In this particular role, I feel really proud of what we have been able to accomplish. We were able to keep Coldest Night going through the pandemic with virtual events and came back to an in-person event this year with our largest group of walkers ever! And I’m happy to know that those dollars raised stay in our community to help the folks who need it the most.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about volunteering?
Make sure it’s a cause you believe in and something you enjoy doing. There are a lot of opportunities out there serving many different needs in the community. You should enjoy the experience!
Do you do any other volunteering in addition to the role we are highlighting in the above questions?
I served on Parent Councils as long as I had children in school. It was a great way to know what was going on in the school and to get to know the Principal and other staff. I am currently serving as a Warden and live-streamer in my church and I lead the group of wonderful folks who organize our Christmas Bazaar and Rummage Sale each year!