Every summer, the teen spends the majority of his time at Camp Manitou. The first four weeks of the camp are dedicated to youth, while it transitions into a family camp after that.
“It makes me feel good to have somewhere to go where I can dedicate my time,” Cole said. “My family has been really involved with Camp Manitou, some of whom are on the board, and I grew up around it. I decided this was where I wanted to spend a lot of my time. Volunteering is beneficial in that it gives you an aspect on what life is like outside of work.”
Fifty per cent of the Canadian population 15 years of age and up has volunteered in some form or another, Christine Guillot, Volunteer Sudbury president, said. In Sudbury, the number is even higher, with about 57 per cent of the population having volunteered their time. It's the desire to contribute to the community that drives the passion for volunteering.
And, while some volunteers, like Cole, are able to easily find an organization that best matches their strengths and skill sets, many others aren't. There are countless organizations looking for much-needed volunteers, and many groups rely on volunteers in order to function.
All that is about to change with the launch of Volunteer Sudbury's Community Hub, a new tool that will make it easier for local organizations to match their needs with the skilled volunteers who are eager to work with them.
Located at volunteersudbury.com, the volunteer matching system offers volunteers the chance to search for opportunities in their community, or to receive emails about volunteer postings that match their own wants and needs. It also gives organizations the ability to set up a profile and a list of the volunteer positions they have available.
“The problem is, the system that was in place to find volunteers for the many different organizations wasn't very good,” Vincent Cisapare, volunteer representative co-ordinator, said. “Before this new website, the way it worked was, an organization had to call us and we would post the volunteer opportunity online. Now, those agencies can do it themselves. It makes for a quicker, more convenient experience in finding the needed volunteers. It's a win-win situation.”
Science North set the scene for the website's launch Aug. 22. Volunteerism at the science centre is alive and well, Guy Labine, CEO of Science North, said. Some 200 volunteers contribute more than 15,000 volunteer hours working with full-time staff to develop initiatives and activities for visitors.
Sudbury is ranked fourth out of more than 35 communities in Canada for volunteerism, Labine said.
Adding to that, more than 1,200 volunteer hours were recorded by local youth this year during the Change the World 2012 challenge. Across Canada, some 28,000 youth volunteered more than 124,000 hours over the three-week campaign.
With those numbers, it's clear people want to volunteer. It's also a clear indication that making it easier for people to find the right volunteer position will only fuel their passion.
“Like so many other organizations, volunteers are an integral part of our workforce,” Nadim Kara, director of Organizational Development at Science North, said. “This new software will help us, and many others, to customize volunteer experiences so that placement matches well with the individual’s schedule, skill set and interests.”
While Volunteer Sudbury hasn't marketed its new website to volunteers just yet, it has introduced it to a number of organizations so that they are included in the launch and positions will be available to prospective volunteers.
“There is a lot of interest, and it has been working out quite nicely,” Cisapare said.
Volunteer Sudbury is undergoing significant growth, “and we look forward to better serving our community,” Guillot said.