Over the four years that I have been at Sustainable Waterloo Region, I have been repeatedly amazed and touched with the kinds of time and talent that are shared in this community to work together for the creation of a shared vision of the future. From students to community leadership, the volunteers at SWR are incredible.

I could try to articulate all the things that people have done, but my memory is, as many of you have heard me say” like a steel sieve”, so I would rather share the top 10 ways that volunteers make all of us at SWR so very grateful.

  1. Professional expertise. Many of our volunteers are professionals. They bring us expertise that we could not access any other way. Through their contributions, we are better, stronger, more resilient.
  2. Stretching their skills. Whether professional or students, we see time and again our volunteers willing to stretch what they know, learn new things and dive into areas where the organization needs support, all just from the willingness to help.
  3. Cross-function participation. Our volunteers don’t get into a role and stay only there. Volunteers may start in one role and move to others, permanently or as needs arise.
  4. Long-term commitment. There are some volunteers that have been with us throughout our 10-year history and show no signs of tiring. They are here, part of the team and in it for the long haul.
  5. Building bonds of friendship. As contrite as it may sound, SWR is a family. We build bonds that are greater than working relationships. In fact, there is one volunteer that checks in with me directly on a regular basis to be sure I am ok too. You know who you are, and THANK YOU!
  6. Creating a connected community. Volunteering at SWR is not about just what you do in your hours with us. Our volunteers take the vision of SWR into their daily lives, creating a larger, stronger community of those thinking about sustainability locally and further afield.
  7. Helping shape a vision. Sometimes the best insights come from those that know the organization but do not live the details day to day. Our volunteers don’t just do work for us, they help guide the future.
  8. Pushing through the tough times. When things start to be tough, the volunteer team rallies and brings in the energy, time and talent needed to keep going. They are the injection of enthusiasm that gets us where we need to go.
  9. Getting down and dirty. High-level aside, the SWR volunteer team gets stuff done. Day in and day out. Payroll, press releases, GHG data, commuting stats, IT problems, funding resources, website edits, heck, even my calendar. All of these and more are supported by volunteers.
  10. Celebrating outcomes. The Evening of Recognition was last week and the power of the volunteer team is demonstrated at this event. This dynamic group of people, all of whom are already busy, come together to pull this event off. Big event or a single tweet, they help shine a light on these amazing feats of organizations across the region.

So to our volunteer team, be it a board member, a member of one of our teams, or someone that helps with one event, I say thank you. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your talent. Thank you for being part of the team. We could not create our low carbon future without you.