Volunteer Leadership = Volunteer Leaders

When I tell people that we have entire functional areas of SWR that are managed and operated with volunteers, they often can’t believe it. In fact we have many that are run by an incredible group of volunteer Functional Area Managers (FAMs). This powerhouse of people bring incredible passion and commitment to the organization and to the community. 

When you think about the work done in our HR, Finance, IT, Communications, etc. departments, and that this is all volunteer it is not only the operations of the organization that they are helping with. They are enabling all available resources to be focused on the delivery of our programs and the impact we intend in creating a low carbon economy and a just transition to that future state. 

To put this blog together, I asked our volunteer FAMs to tell me what it means to them to be part of the management team at SWR. Their responses are so lovely I wanted to share them directly: 

“Volunteering for this organization and helping us to achieve our mission brings so much joy to my life, knowing that I’m giving back to our local community.”

Matt, Fund Development Manager

“In my time with Sustainable Waterloo Region, I have been able to work with a like-minded group of passionate individuals to help improve our community for the better. I love being able to use my skill set to support the communications efforts of the organization, and lead an amazing team.”

Liz, Communications Team Manager

“Volunteering with SWR has given me the opportunity to grow my professional skills when at the time I didn’t have the opportunity to do so at my workplace. It also has given me the chance to be part of a network of like-minded people who want to help businesses be more sustainable.”

Liz, Business Development Manager

“Volunteering with SWR has been one of the highlights of the last year. Despite the challenges that we’ve all experienced, SWR has been a wonderful way to contribute to strengthening our community while working with many incredible and inspiring individuals.”

Lauren, Government Relations Manager

“I have been volunteering with the organization since November 2015 (OMG!). I really get the opportunity to feel like I am contributing in a meaningful way to an organization that is doing phenomenal work. I am inspired every day by the passion and talent of each and every member of the SWR team – whether Board member, volunteer or staff. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great organization!”

Yvonne, Human Resources Manager

Yet this is only half of the picture. The other part of our management team are the staff managers. When they were asked about their experience working with their volunteer peers, their responses reflected the impact of this incredible group: 

“Having only ever worked in the private sector where I felt like we were always trying to find incentives to recruit and retain talented staff, I am constantly in awe of the quality and dedication of our volunteer teams. I feel like our mission and culture allow us to connect to this amazing population of people who want to contribute to something meaningful and it is entirely reciprocal as the mission and culture is successful because of them.”

– Ash, evolvGREEN

“Dedicated volunteers bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise from across the community to our work, and add a tremendous amount of capacity to our team. It’s only because of their hard work and dedication to sustainability, that our work is able to have an impact community-wide.”

Samantha, ClimateActionWR

“What I find extraordinary about our volunteers is that they are often experts in their fields and bring a wealth of knowledge that is integral to our organization’s programs and operations. Our volunteers are not afraid to jump into big projects, and I have always been impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm they bring to the team.”

Katie, TravelWise

“Our program’s ability to adapt program delivery for pandemic working conditions wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our volunteers. The Idea Book is an incredible 100+page PDF resource maintained by volunteer Living Documents Coordinators. All of our data is managed by a volunteer who has been with the program for over 10 years and was critical to our ability to respond to the impacts of the pandemic on our sustainability reporting and target setting methodologies.”

Danielle, Regional Sustainability Initiative

“Working with our SWR volunteer’s is always such a pleasure! Each of them brings their individual talents and expertise to make Sustainable Waterloo Region the exceptional organization that it is. Thank you for all you do!”

Katie, Events

“Our volunteers have always been one of my favourite parts of SWR. Their passion and dedication amaze me, and always pick me up on the days when I get wrapped up in my day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture. Volunteers are so core to what we do, providing capacity where we are lacking, a breadth of insight skills and opinions, and always bringing that fresh passion for the work we’re doing …. I truly would not be able to do my staff role without the support of these strong individuals.”

Lisa, Operations

From me personally, I just have to say thank you. Thank you for being part of the leadership of this incredible organization, for giving so freely of your time and talent. You will often hear it said that we are largely a volunteer powered organization, and that includes leadership!

Thank you to all our volunteer FAMs!