Published April 17, 2018
Volunteer Week is April 15 to 21. The Haliburton Highlands is fortunate to have many hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers rolling up their sleeves and doing the difficult work of making the community shine.
The county’s fall hiking festival, Hike Haliburton, involves more than 100 volunteers who do everything from running the Big Picnic to creating and guiding hikes.
“We pride ourselves on the magnitude of this festival, and it continues to grow as the biggest hiking festival in Canada, but it would not at all be possible without the interest and dedication of our volunteers,” says Emily Stonehouse.
“Last year was my first year in the role of volunteer co-ordinator, and organizing almost 100 hikes that appeal to thousands of people from all over the map seems like a daunting task, but the volunteers made it happen. … They truly make Haliburton a better place for everyone.”
More than 130 volunteers keep Canoe FM on the air throughout the year, hosting programs, fundraising, marketing, working the front office and as members of the board.
“We sometimes forget the scope of what the volunteers provide to our community, but with only 2.5 staff at Canoe FM, volunteers are truly the men and women who bring community radio into your homes – without the volunteers there wouldn’t be a community radio station in our community,” says Roxanne Casey, station manager.
“Canoe FM would like to thank each and every one of the volunteers who give of their time to provide community radio to Haliburton County – you’re fabulous, we couldn’t do it without you,” she says.
Volunteer Dental Outreach Clinic
The Volunteer Dental Outreach Clinic is able to provide free dental service to adults in need in Haliburton County thanks to dental professionals such as dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, as well as administrators and a board of directors who make it all happen. Aside from doing the dental work, volunteers also do fundraising including running a golf tournament and decorating Smile cookies.
In addition, this year 34 fourth-year students from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry came to the clinic to learn about practicing in a clinic and gave patients excellent care.
Since opening in May of 2011, the clinic has provided $2,315,969 in free dental care in 6,520 appointments.
“Volunteering their skills has been life changing for the 787 individual patients who have attended the clinic and none of it could take place without their generously giving of their time,” board member Lisa Kerr says.
“The message I would like to share with our volunteers came from a grateful patient who sent a testimonial about his VDO experience just last week. He finished his note by saying ‘I can never thank them enough, keep up the good work, you are true heroes of the community,’” she says.
Bark Lake Cultural Developments
Bark Lake Cultural Developments has a board of six volunteers with more than 20 others that assist at events, helping with fundraising, painting the Irondale church, gardening, cutting the grass and other tasks.
Because of this assistance, Bark Lake Cultural Developments has raised awareness about the Irondale area and has raised the money needed to pay expenses.
“We couldn’t do it without you,” says Carol Simmons, president.
Haliburton Curling Club
Many of the events that happen throughout the year at the Haliburton Curling Club are made possible because of volunteers. With more than 250 members from ages eight to 88, Wanda Stephen says at some point each of them contributes to further the success of the club and its events.
The Haliburton Home and Cottage Show is run by the curling club and “takes no less than 140 volunteers,” she says.
Volunteers fill a range of roles including on the board of directors, as part of the “Ice Team” helping the ice technician, running the bar, coaching youth curling and Learn to Curl, draw masters running leagues and bonspiel convenors.
“And yet there are still a million jobs that seem to crop up all year, and it’s so wonderful to belong to a club where you never have to worry that someone will not step up and take on that task,” Stephen says.
“The executive team at the Haliburton Curling Club would love to express their immense thanks to all of our members who work so hard to make the club their own and in the thick of that, make it such a huge success. We are eternally grateful to have attracted such a passionate group of people under our roof.”
Community Living Trent Highlands
Community Living Trent Highlands has six volunteers in Haliburton, six in City of Kawartha Lakes and nine in Peterborough.
They help with one-on-one activities, transportation, life skills training, office assistance, community programs, horseback riding, fishing, teaching sign and braille and the Blue Box program at Trent University.
Individuals are better able to reach their goals with the help of volunteers, says Sharon Coupland, manager of human resources. She says it “gives people a better sense of independence and accomplishment when new skills are learned and used.”
Lisa Corp, outcomes facilitator, says the volunteers bring new ideas and energy to the organization.
“Volunteers are a valued member of the Community Living team and there are many aspects of the work we do and the lives of people supported that are enhanced and touched by our volunteers,” says Coupland.
“You may consider your acts of kindness as small, but know the impact they have and will have are huge,” says Corp.
County of Haliburton
The County of Haliburton has hundreds of volunteers. The roads department has about 125 volunteers who clean up garbage from roadsides through Adopt-a-Road; the tourism department receives help from about 100 volunteers with Hike Haliburton (page 10); there are volunteers with the rural transportation task force and various committees.
“These volunteers bring energy, expertise, and insight into the needs of our community. Their involvement makes us more effective in developing services that meet the needs of the people we serve,” says CAO Mike Rutter.
“I often say the best ideas don’t come from our municipal offices or the county building, but from ‘Main Street.’ Quite frankly, we could not function without them. Some programs like Adopt-a-Road and Hike Haliburton would not exist without them, nor would our programs be as effective. In all cases, they challenge us to be better at what we do, and that is a good thing for everyone.”
You can find volunteers everywhere you look at Abbey Gardens, whether it’s in the Food Hub, working the gardens, tending to the ponies, at children’s programs or at the organization’s events and festivals.
About 40 volunteers help get things done at Abbey Gardens, says Cara Steele.
“Volunteers contribute to every part of our organization and have allowed us to grow exponentially. They provide a link to our community that is so important to the work we do,” she says.
“Time is precious and choosing to spend your time with us is something we don’t take for granted. We love the enthusiasm and knowledge that our volunteers bring to Abbey Gardens.”
Heat Bank Haliburton County
At the Haliburton County Heat Bank, a core group of about 10 volunteers help by delivering wood, picking up donations, co-ordinating the wood depots and helping with fundraisers. About 60 supporters come out once or twice a year for splitting and stacking wood and in making hot sauce, which they sell.
The Heat Bank’s co-ordinator Tina Jackson says the volunteers allow the organization to supply those in need with funds for fuel and electricity and with wood to burn.
“Our volunteers literally are sometimes the only thing standing between a household in crisis and -30 degree cold weather,” she says.
“Our message is: You are the Heat Heroes of our organization and our community. The tireless work and efforts that you put into helping Heat Bank means everything to us and even more to the people that turn to us. Thanks for standing together with us – we can’t thank you enough!”
Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society has about 65 volunteers who work as mentors and as drivers. Drivers take clients to appointments and to family visiting, which is particularly important for those in rural areas. Mentors are matched with children, youth or families to spend time weekly or biweekly.
“The time that volunteer mentors share with the child/youth or family offers that connection to someone just for them, to spend special time in a supportive, nonjudgmental way and being a positive role model,” says Jennifer Wilson, executive director.
“KHCAS volunteers are truly amazing! The service that our volunteers provide, with such dedication and commitment, assists us in working for safe kids and strong families in our community,” says Tania Nanni, volunteer co-ordinator.
“The motivation to volunteer comes from within. Volunteers surround children with caring, compassion and support. They epitomize the true sense of community,” says Wilson.
Friends of the Library
Volunteers support the Haliburton County Public Library through the Friends of the Library organization. About 60 volunteers helped raise money to improve the eight branches included in the system. Membership of FOL is at 140.
The volunteers run the annual gala, run monthly meetings, create book baskets to sell, organize book sales, sort donated books and decorate libraries for special occasions, among other things.
Lunch and Learn speakers and the gala author also volunteer their time.
“From the perspective of HCPL, the library receives many enhancements through the volunteer efforts of the Friends of HCPL. These include special book collections such as the Evergreen titles and large print, Early Literacy Computers for children, and additional equipment and supplies for our digital literacy programming and our Community of Making efforts,” says Elly Malcomson of FOL.
“Volunteers are worth their weight in gold. They share their time and talents without any compensation. They can choose to stay or walk away at any time. They are critical to the success of any organization.”
Haliburton Highlands Health Services
There are more volunteers at Haliburton Highlands Health Services than there are staff, approximately 350 of them. They help with Meals on Wheels, friendly visiting, Diners’ Club, social recreation activities, transportation to medical appointments. They are at the long-term care facilities, making residents’ lives better and fundraising through the auxiliaries and the HHHS Foundation.
“The work that volunteers do in community programs assists members in our community to remain independent and engaged in their community. Some of these programs are entirely volunteer based and wouldn’t exist without our volunteers,” says Brigitte Gebauer, co-ordinator of volunteer servicves.
At the long-term care home, volunteers put “smiles on the residents’ faces” as they assist with music, special events and other programming.
“Volunteers are an integral part of our organization. The impact of the endless hours we receive from our volunteer coworkers is immeasurable both to the organization as a whole but primarily to the people we serve. We want to offer our heartfelt thank you to all the HHHS volunteers for what they do to support our organization, health care in the Haliburton Highlands and the community we serve,” she says.
Central Food Network
John Teljeur estimates more than 100 volunteers help to provide the programs run by the Central Food Network, which includes the Heat Bank, the Highlands East Food Hub, Cardiff Food Bank, Community Cooks and Community Garden Network.
“The tasks are as diverse as the programs we offer. These include but are not limited to cutting, splitting, stacking and delivering wood on behalf of heat insecure clients; sorting, stocking and providing food to those needing assistance. They are also active in growing food for others, organizing food drives or preparing hot meals for others,” Teljeur says.
Without the volunteers pitching in, CFN would just be “an organization that has a good idea,” he says.
“Our volunteers’ contribution makes a positive and daily impact on the lives of so many that have so little in our community. Not only do they provide the essentials to those in need, they are the ambassadors of hope, opportunity and change. That load of wood or box of food that is provided allows that senior or family a chance to return to a sense of normalcy and a reprieve from the pressures of poverty many of us have never experienced. Together, we are making a difference.”