Thousands of people across the region are being celebrated today for their volunteerism.
Dec. 5 is International Volunteer Day, something that Volunteer Victoria executive director Lisa Mort-Putland says is very important.
“Any day that brings acknowledgment and recognition on the power and impact of volunteerism is an important day,” she said. “There are more than 3,000 non-profit societies in Greater Victoria. That number is larger than the number of businesses in downtown Victoria.”
Nationally, the non-profit sector is larger than the manufacturing sector.
The roles volunteers take are vast and varied, with some people sitting as volunteer board members and others as casual participants. Additionally, in recent years the idea of volunteerism has changed and become less rigid, and can now be seen in everyday actions such as picking up litter and baking cookies for children’s events.
“It’s such a broad term now, it’s much more casual,” Mort-Putland said. “Even one hour per year is still volunteering.”
Helping out others in the community is not necessarily a selfless act, Mort-Putland said; studies show that volunteering is actually beneficial for a person’s health.
“The act of giving releases the same kind of chemicals in the brain, dopamine, that are given to other activities that give us a natural high,” Mort-Putland said. “It releases those natural chemicals that give us energy and it’s just really good for our mental health and wellness, and it’s also about social inclusion in most cases.”
Volunteering is available to anyone of any age, background or ability. Every week hundreds of volunteer positions are posted on Volunteer Victoria’s website, with an influx around the holidays.
Anyone interested in learning more about these positions can visit volunteervictoria.bc.ca .