It’s no secret volunteering isn’t as common an activity as it used to be, but how does that affect the organizations that rely on them?
For the Inuvik Girl Guides, it means some programs just don’t happen.
“We’ve had to cancel meetings at the last minute a few times this year because our volunteers have had an emergency come up and we didn’t have enough adults to safely do the activity planned,” said guider Amanda Chaulk-Pearat. “The last-minute change in plans can be annoying for parents and a complete bummer for a kid who was looking forward to the meeting.
“Now that COVID restrictions have lifted, we are able to host sleepovers and camp-outs, but we don’t have enough adult volunteers to plan and host the events. Inuvik’s Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers units are closed. At the beginning of this year we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough volunteers to run the Sparks and Embers program.
“This year, we are so grateful for the handful of volunteers that came forward so that the Sparks and Embers unit could continue. In September 2022 we were seriously worried that we wouldn’t have enough volunteers to run any guiding programs in Inuvik.”
Chaulk-Pearat said the guides were barely hanging on with two full-time guiders and five volunteers on call, but really needed at least 10 to operate the organization properly.
Exact numbers may vary, but the effect is always the same. Less volunteers means less the organization can do.
Davonna Kasook, who volunteers with Inuvik Marine Rescue, Inuvik Slo-Pitch Association and the InuvikVolleyball Club said “at least three is needed for the sports associations.”
“For our Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit – Inuvik Marine Rescue, the amount of volunteers needed to run thegroup successfully throughout the year is between eight-10, again timing of the year and the tasks we are trying to accomplish are important factors to consider,” she said. “These details cause variations inthe needs of hands on deck.”
“There really is no way to cope with low numbers. We either have to pick up the slack or things just simply don’t happen or are delayed until we have the right amounts of numbers. A lot of times there are one or two of us doing the job of many and this is how we get things done when they’re supposed to be done.”
Kasook said she volunteers because she enjoys contributing to the community.
Being on sports committees, she noted, was important because if volunteers didn’t run the leagues, there would be no sports leagues for her to participate in.
“At the end of the day, folks have to have the time and interest to invest into something without expecting financial compensation for it,” she said. “With that being said, I don’t ever find ways to encourage people to stick around other than occasionally reminding them about the value of the work we do as volunteers and hope its ignites the same passion in them that was lit in me as a young adult watching people I looked up to doing volunteer work in the community.
“There are certain experiences that shape how you view volunteer work that can change your life forever if you expose yourself to them. Without the experience of that rewarding feeling of contributing to something positive in the community, you just have no idea what you’re missing.”
Kasook invited anyone in town interested in volunteering with Inuvik Marine Rescue, Inuvik Slo-Pitch Association and the Inuvik Volleyball Club to contact her by email at email@example.com or other volunteers in the organizations.
Noting that it was important for volunteers to have a lot of options in how to contribute, Chaulk-Pearat said Girl Guides offers training and opportunities for travel in its activities. She suggested anyone interested in getting involved to send a message to the 1st Girl Guides of Inuvik’s Facebook page.
“The youth in Inuvik are hilarious, smart, resourceful, and creative. Volunteering with guiding is fun, rewarding, and provides opportunities for youth and grown-ups to try new things! It’s a chance to laugh, be silly and creative while giving back to the community. The best part is the conversations with the youth, whether it’s them telling me something about their day, or reflecting on something we did at a meeting.”