Kind-hearted volunteers were awarded at the Ontario Honors and Awards Secretariat   

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BY: ASHELLY SMITH 

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”- Martin Luther King

As the quote suggests above, it takes a person who has a heart filled with kindness to be a remarkable individual. A person who volunteers their valuable time to work diligently for free is a person who has a rich life; rich in the sense of possessing great value or worth. It brings me great joy to see people who still live by this ideal and this ceremony serves to acknowledge those people who selflessly thought of others.

On April 11th, 2018, Ontario Honors and Awards Secretariat of the Ontario Government awarded numerous volunteers for excellence in volunteerism. The event took place at the Embassy Grand Convention Centre in Brampton at 7:30 pm. The MPP of Brampton-Springdale, Harinder Malhi was a special guest at the function where she delivered a short message to several volunteers.

“You have worked hard to be here today. Some of you have served our community for a year, two years, five years and some for over twenty-five years. You have given back so much to our community that helped make what it is today. Volunteers like yourself truly shape what happens in our communities and what happens in our beautiful city of Brampton. As the MPP of Brampton-Springdale, as well as the minister responsible for the status of women in Ontario it’s truly an honor to participate in ceremonies like the one we’re hosting today. In the last four years, I have had the opportunity to visit a number of non-profit organizations that support the most vulnerable people in our communities and it is people like you that go into volunteer and to help make those organizations come alive. Your work and dedication to what you do every day are much appreciated by me, by all community and by our government. Thank you for taking the opportunity to give back, it’s much appreciated. I hope that you enjoy tonight because you truly deserve a big round of applause and appreciation for what you do every day. Thank you again.”

It is always a pleasant gesture to see the municipal government attending community events to show their support for whatever is being celebrated. It makes citizens feel supported and improves the relationship with people within the community by focusing on a common purpose or goal. It shows their interests are genuine, especially when it’s not during an electoral period. Another representative from the government was there not in their physical presence but in a recorded video session. The Honorable Laura Albanese, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration regretted that she was not able to attend but nevertheless she had this to say in the video: “Congratulations to all the wonderful volunteers who are being recognized here today. We are here to celebrate your years of service, your hard work and your dedication towards putting the needs of others before your own. Your contributions make our province a brighter place. I know that I stick together with all Ontarians when I say thank you, merci. You’ve helped build strong communities where people of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged and supported. Your kindness sets an example to others, your dedication is inspiring whether you have been volunteering for two years, five years or a lifetime your work has made a difference in your community and we are grateful. Once again, on behalf of the people of Ontario congratulations and thank you for your generous service.” 

At the event, there were volunteers who have given their time for 10-15 years and few were 25 years. It is certainly impressive to see that people actually adore volunteering very much, spending many years working for free while asking nothing in return but a simple thank you from others. Karen Strong was the guest speaker of the night who joined Volunteer Mississauga in 2008. She spent approximately 60 hours a month trying to make a difference in her community in a capacity. Strong made a profound statement as she stood at the podium to deliver her speech:

“My dad, my volunteer hero used to say the only difference between a rich person and a poor person is how they spend their time. So, the way I see it, we have a whole lot of rich people this evening since you all are contributing so much. Time is a very precious commodity. The reality is we don’t know how much time we have on Earth, so we have to make it count.”

But it is very sad that a lot of people are still not open to the idea of volunteering. Some may think it’s a waste of time to be working and not being paid a dime for the hours spent on a task. Instead, they could be working at an employed institution with the knowledge of receiving a pay-cheque on payday. Therefore, some people will never volunteer not even to give one hour of their time, as they find it insensible. They possess the attitude of ‘You must pay me. I don’t work for free.  I don’t have time for that.’  But with that self-centered attitude, you will never experience that fulfilling feeling when you genuinely contribute your time to do something good with nothing in return. 

Clyde Pacis from the Philippine Independence Day Council received an award for over 5 years of volunteering. During a brief interview, Clyde was asked why he volunteers? He responded, “I have the passion to lead and nurture ideas to kids, youths and the community by means of sportsmanship to the game of basketball and other sports.

But why does he think volunteering is important?

“Volunteering is important because it’s a way to give back to others in need of support. Giving your time is precious and helpful to honor people and to show that you care. Life is not all about the money but to value and show enrichment of life by helping others.” he said.

Pacis is self-employed who has his own business called The Paper Crane & Co.

Fernando whose last name was not received is a retired business consultant at CIBC who is also a part of the Philippine Independence Day Council.

“I have worked at CIBC for 41 years and after that now it’s time for me to retire.”

During your retirement do you plan on volunteering?

“Oh yes! It’s not only that I am helping out other people but I’m helping myself. I cannot just watch hockey all the time,” added Fernando while we both chuckled.

Fernando was awarded for ten years of volunteering and recalled that it never gets boring doing what he does.

As National Volunteer Week approaches which is April 15th-21st, try to volunteer your time at an organization of your choice. National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate and thank Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers, are you a part of that number? If not, you can begin today!  Just remember this as you absorb what you have just read, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” ~Elizabeth Andrew

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