Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Volunteering: Is Respect Earned or Expected?

Posted by auroracitizen on September 24, 2009

Thanks to one of our contributors for this very thoughtful post.

Recently there has been some attention drawn to the role volunteers have in Aurora. I’ve been a volunteer in our community for about 15 years so I thought I’d share my perspective.

People recognize us for what we are. There aren’t a lot of interviews for getting a volunteer job in Aurora. We start at the bottom and work our way up. We get the response someone else feels we deserve, whether it is criticism or congratulations. Sometimes we get criticism and congratulations for the same thing, depending on how we affected different people.

Some of the criticism seems unpleasant but it has two very important side effects. First we stop taking ourselves so seriously. Second, we look at what we did and how we did it and decide if that is a good way to go in the future or if we should re-evaluate and change our ways. It’s much like having a job, but without a pay cheque. At least we don’t have to worry about the change in salary if we realise we need a change of career.

The congratulations are lovely and thankfully received with the realization that they should be shared with others, both volunteers and paid staff.

One thing volunteering has taught me is that I can’t do anything on my own. I can volunteer because my family supports my efforts, both in time and finances. I can volunteer because I have earned the trust of people. I can volunteer because people are willing to tell me what they need. If I want to make a change, I have to do it within the community.

As a volunteer, I have to work with other people who see the same problem, but may have different ways of getting to the goal of fixing it. We ask each other questions, and take the time to try to understand why each question was asked. When people start fighting about how to get to the desired end product, they are not serving anyone anymore.

Should volunteers have to stand up and ask for respect? Sure, but they have to earn it. They have to act like professionals, even if they aren’t paid that way.

For the record, my current volunteer activities in the Aurora community are: Convenor of Tyke House League for the AMHA, Co-chair of the School Supporters Association at Lester B. Pearson Public School, and Chair of the Aurora Public Library.

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9 Responses to “Volunteering: Is Respect Earned or Expected?”

  1. Nigel Kean said

    I think that there are too many great volunteers in Aurora to name them. Everyone who volunteers for soccer, baseball,the food bank, the seniors centre, the Legion,events in the park, litter days and the list goes on and on. Without these great folks so many events would not happen in Aurora. Every time you are at an event where there are volunteers it would be good if you said “Thank you”.
    At times we all forget, myself included, that these events would not happen without these folks.
    Thank you all for a job well done.

  2. White Knight said

    And how about volunteers at community agencies such as CHATS and Hospice Aurora? They aren't in it to drum up business for their musician husbands. In my experience with these organizations they are in it because of heartfelt desire to help those who need help… nothing more, nothing less. Let's celebrate them!

  3. Paul Sesto said

    In regards to mentioning your favourite volunteers… I would like to honour all of the volunteers at Southlake Hospital's Cancer Clinic – Outpatient Chemotherapy area. Southlake serves York Region and beyond and I know from personal experience that there are Aurora volunteers amongst the group. All the volunteers no matter of their home locaation make the patient's difficult day that much easier. When I have met a few of them outside of the hospital environment, they have all been very humble and low key in their contribution and yet they contribute so much more than they may realize. For that matter, three cheers for all of Southlake's volunteers!!

  4. Council Cop said

    I read the Mayor's bio posted on the Town's website and the over-blown nature of some of her claims and implications is nothing short of ridiculous when you consider some of the underlying facts. Are we to believe that Phyllis's role at National Defence was something more than being a file clerk ? I also know from expereince, her contribution to some of the committees she claims to have participated on.

    In the way of an analogy; because you officially registered for a class does not mean for a second that you automatically mastered the subject or even attended class for that matter. The same goes for being a member of a committee or board. We all know that not everyone that signs up for everything under the sun or seeks out photo ops is an effective team player.

    The truth can be something quite different than the spin when one scratches beneath the surface so we can only hope that the voters of Aurora start scratching and make a concerted effort to separate fact from fiction, especially when it comes to the Mayor's claims. I for one have come to question her motives and claims in more than a few cases.

  5. Council Cop said

    The Aurora Youth Soccer Club has over 400 volunteers that make soccer possible for over 3,000 players and the organisation and dedication is simply amazing.

    Our local Newmarket – Aurora basketball club is fantastic and the tone of competition and good sportsmanship is set by its volunteers.

    Aurora's Minor Hockey League is yet another example of a well oiled machine and the same goes for any number of youth programs in York Region that would not happen without the dedication of countless volunteers.

    We have much to be thankful for and volunteers make it all happen !

  6. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    Hey, how about mentioning your favourite volunteer?

    Mine is Phil Cosentino, who is VP of House League for the AMHA. I would nominate Linda, his wife, in a tie. Phil has a good thing going with a fantastic wife like that!

  7. Something Fishy in Aurora said

    Thank you Elizabeth,

    I think that some of the criticism coming out recently is from a volunteer who is also in a position to profit from some of the activities they take part in. Is that truly a volunteer or just somebody in a position of conflict of interest?

    I think people are tiring of the events that are taking place always having the same entertainment. In this town of “arts and culture” I’m sure we can find others that could benefit from performing on the stage and getting the exposure that comes with it. Maybe even a resident of our town?

    I commend all volunteers for the time and energy they give for others. But only when they are doing it for the true meaning of volunteerism, not to gain monetarily for their actions.

    How altruistic is that?

  8. Volunteers Rock said

    An excellent contribution to this blog.
    Volunteering is the backbone of many community organizations and greatly contributes to our community spirit. I applaud all volunteers that give of their time, energy and goodwill.
    It is unfortunate that a certain volunteer has brought attention and ridicule upon herself in the media and before council.
    While she may have started her volunteer efforts with good intentions, her publicity seeking ego has taken a shine off of her contributions. What started as well-meaning has become "taking over" and diminishes the contributions of others that are involved in the same efforts. That is not the way to foster community.
    Kudos to the selfless volunteers who contribute to our community with humility and grace.

  9. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    In the interests of openness, I am the person who wrote that post.

    Elizabeth Bishenden

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