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Volunteers contribute to strong communities

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Volunteers are motivated by many personal factors, but community organizations, programs and special events depend on the time and energy they willingly and freely provide.

National Volunteer Week began April 6 and ends April 12, and all Canadians are
encouraged to recognize and thank the more than 13 million people who donate their time to help others.

Headingley’s Karen Saunders is one of these volunteers. She said she keeps donating her time because of the intangible rewards she gains through her work for Headingley Seniors’ Services and the local 55-plus club.

"It’s to see the joy that it brings to other people," she said.

After moving to Headingley with her family in 1994, a health crisis forced her to retire early. Her neighbours at the time introduced her to the 55 Plus Club’s activities, and she began helping to prepare coffee and organize activities at club meetings.

Those attending the Seniors’ Services lunch and learn sessions will notice Saunders and Rose LeClair putting out the lunch, which often includes Saunders’ homemade baking for dessert.

Saunders is also one of Seniors’ Services’ core group of volunteers who organize and run the annual Christmas craft sale each October. The two-day sale, featuring over 30 vendors, is a popular event that draws buyers from Winnipeg and the surrounding area.

Not having grown up in Headingley, Saunders said, she has learned a lot by listening to longtime residents talk about local history. This fosters her sense of community.

The desire to contribute to her community also inspired Cartier resident Amber Gallant to offer her voluntary services about four years ago after hearing that the St. Francois Xavier fall supper might not be held because extra help was needed.

She’s proud to say there are now enough volunteers each year to hold this traditional community event.

"Every year, we sell out," she said.

Gallant is convenor for the St. Francois Xavier Community Club, one of eight local residents willing to give up some of their spare time to add to their community.

"It’s starting to blossom," Gallant said, as more activities are being offered at the club, and the new outdoor rink proved to be a success.

"I’m extremely happy with my team," she added.

She also credits local residents who aren’t on the board with supporting activities and helping when needed.

Of course, there’s always a need for more helping hands.

"We’re always looking for volunteers," Saunders said.

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Volunteers can tee off

With greens emerging from under the snow, volunteers are needed for the upcoming season at Kingswood Golf & Country Club.

Kingswood’s head golf pro Darren Hayden said about 65 volunteers are needed as starters, marshals, in the pro shop and working the concession.

"There are so many duties at such a busy course," he said.

In return for your time, you can receive unlimited golf time anytime on weekdays and after 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays, as well as discounts in the pro shop and concession, and half off at the club’s driving range.

Hayden said the benefits accrue depending on the number and length of shifts each volunteer works.

In previous years, most of the Kingswood volunteers are seniors, but younger people are welcome if they can commit to working available shifts.

Anyone interested can contact Hayden at 204-736-4079 or Darren@kingswoodgolf.ca

— Geary

Manitobans more likely to volunteer

According to Volunteer Manitoba’s communications manager Dawn Bourbonnais, Statistics Canada last measured Canadians’ volunteerism in 2010. The data  showed that the volunteer rate in Manitoba was 53 per cent, compared to the national average of 47 per cent. The average number of hours (per Manitoban) was 141 hours per year.

In an email, Boubonnais said that these figures don’t capture casual or one-time volunteering as happens during an emergency such as flooding or special event like the Junos.

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