Written by Cari Moore – Coordinator of Volunteers and Administration
I often wonder why people want to volunteer – and why at the museum for that matter. What draws them in to wanting to give back to community? Are they new to our City and have a desire to meet new people? Do they just want to get out of the house and have nothing better to do? Could it be that they are passionate about our local history and feel that a museum experience is valuable to everyone young and old? When asked, one of our volunteers stated that she felt that Museums were of significance to a highly functioning society and that she wanted to do her part in keeping it open. Another volunteer and his wife were very interested in Genealogy and volunteered initially at our archives to do family research and have never left.
Whatever the reason, the way I look at volunteering has started to shift. It is no longer about filling a seat with a warm body. It is not about saving money, after all a great volunteer program should be cost effective but is not “free labour”. It is not about finding the ultimate volunteer that will be here for years to come. It is about finding the right fit for people, figuring out what their passions and skills are and then give them a space to blossom. It is about relationships; connecting with people as coworkers and building a team who welcomes visitors and guests into our space and makes everyone feel at home. It is about sharing our local history and the amazing things that this city has to offer.
I have come to realize that volunteering needs to be something you want to do for you, for your community or the people around you. You need to find a place where you belong, that works around your schedule and utilizes your strengths. It can also be an experience that helps you grow, or allows you to try new things and learn new skills. Most importantly, volunteering needs to help you enjoy the special moments and feel appreciated for the little things you contribute. Volunteers need to know that what they do is important, to themselves, the agencies they work with, their customers or guests and society as a whole. The world of volunteerism is evolving and ever changing. We need to open our eyes to every possibility of engagement and embrace the support and resources that volunteers have to offer.