Opinion: Volunteers are the backbone of our community

It started small. I helped out at my kids’ school with something. Then it started to grow when I got involved with the Delta Spirit of 2010 committee. Then I started helping to coach my son’s hockey team. I kept coaching goalies, even after my son quit hockey.

The next thing I know, I was road marshalling for the Tour de Delta and Delta Triathlon and driving for Operation Red Nose. Before I knew it, I was president of the Deltassist board of directors.

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Without realizing it, I had become a serial volunteer.

There is something special about being a volunteer. Doing something for the benefit of others with no expectation of payment or accolades might seem crazy to some people. I don’t know what makes me do it, either.

Once you start, however, it just gets into your blood. It’s hard to stop, not so much because the organization you volunteer with needs you (it does), but because the feeling you get from helping keeps you saying yes whenever it asks for help.

While the feeling I get from volunteering is great, the people I have had the honour to meet is also a great benefit. Anyone who unselfishly gives their time is someone you want as a friend. It’s a great way to meet people. You come together with a shared purpose, always have something to talk about, and leave with a good feeling.

Volunteering is a great way to meet people. Even better, when you become friends with someone who volunteers a lot, if you ever need help, that person will be there with a smile, ready to go.

Delta has so many great volunteers. Dozens of organizations rely on them, and couldn’t do the amazing work they do without them. I think that’s what makes this such a tight community, because of the hundreds of people willing to step up and help out.

This is National Volunteer Week, a week when we celebrate those who give a precious commodity – time -- to others. It’s a week when organizations thank those who make such a difference to so many. Yet to a volunteer, a smile, a handshake, maybe a cup of regular coffee and a thank you is all they want.

There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities in Delta. There are 12 opportunities listed on the city’s volunteer page alone. You can even volunteer with the Delta Police Department (but you still can’t use the siren, sorry). If you aren’t sure what you can do or how you can start, just Google “volunteer Delta” and you’ll find lots of opportunities to get started.

I’m a big believer that doing good things allows good things to happen for you. Call it karma, call it what you like, all I know is my life has improved greatly since I began volunteering. I’ve had a lot of fun, met some really great people, and learned a whole lot by setting aside a few hours here and there. I also believe that volunteering now is in a way paying it forward; one day, I’ll be thankful a volunteer is there to help me.

Thanks to all those volunteers who do their part to make Delta a great place to live. This week is for you.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has almost 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is president of the board of directors at Deltassist.

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