National Volunteer Week 2021
Originating in 1943, National Volunteer Week has become a long-term event to create awareness and spark celebration for the vital work millions of people do across Canada. From April 18 – 24, 2021, it’s time to recognize and thank volunteers for the incredible and selfless work they do for families, friends and community members.
The Value of One, The Power of Many, was the theme for National Volunteer Week in 2001, The International Year of Volunteers. Reusing the theme in 2021 beautifully reflects the individual and collective efforts, as well as sets the tone for re-imagining the next 20 years as the value of one act and the power of many enables us to thrive together (Volunteer Canada, 2021).
As we continue to shift and rebuild our structure, we are thankful for the volunteers who give their time to CMHA Calgary, but also tip our hats to volunteers all over the world.
Mental health advocates, Stacey Meyer and Kerry Brown have dedicated their time to volunteer as CMHA Calgary’s Board members.
Stacey Meyer had the chance to join CMHA Calgary’s Board through his early works within the community.
“I have always admired the incredible work that CMHA Calgary has done in our community. I had the opportunity to work with some of the CMHA Calgary Leadership Team in the early days of the Calgary Child Advocacy Centre and really felt a connection to the work, the people and the tremendous impact CMHA Calgary has on so many lives. Through those relationships, I had the opportunity to join the Board and actually be a small part of this work—and I jumped at it.”
Being a part of CMHA Calgary’s Board has given Stacey a lens into how impactful it is for a group of innovators to come together for a common goal and in this case, see mental health become more and more of a community value.
“Being able to actually witness the [Return On Investment] an organization such as CMHA Calgary provides our community is not only rewarding but something I am very passionate about. I truly believe that we can all give back in so many different ways, and this is one way that resonates with me.”
Reflecting on the years he has volunteered with CMHA Calgary, Stacey remembers the laughs, and tears, listening to the leaders and providers working behind the scenes to ensure our programs and services have the necessary information and are accessible to those who need them the most.
“I would say the memories that stick with me most are the ones when the staff of CMHA Calgary have the opportunities to tell their stories or talk about the impact of their work. Not too many times do these not come with goosebumps and proud smiles. If you have had a difficult day, I would recommend that you find one of our incredible frontline workers, ask them to tell you a story about how they made a difference today, and your bad day will just evaporate. It is an organization full of amazing people, doing very difficult work, but each and every one of them does it because they love it and they want to make a difference. Those are the stories I will remember forever.”
“I am certain that the reward I personally receive in being a part of something so amazing, far outweighs the benefit I provide by being a Board member.”Stacey Meyer | CMHA Calgary Board Member
Stacey believes acknowledging the ups and downs of different journeys with mental health is how we can discover and implement positive changes in people’s lives.
“The more we all understand in this area and work together to support each other, the better off our lives will be—whether you struggle mightily or just need to chat now and again, we can all improve the lives of our family members, friends and community if we receive some of the gifts and tools this amazing work offers!”
Aside from volunteering his time with CMHA Calgary, Stacey finds his personal well-being when he is around the people that mean the most.
“Self-care for me is really being around those I love. Nothing gases up my tank more than having the ability to sit, chat, giggle and tell stories with family, friends or colleagues.”
Seeing the toll mental health had on family members made Kerry Brown’s decision to join CMHA Calgary’s Board an easy, and exciting one.
“My time with CMHA Calgary has provided me with learning opportunities regarding the importance of mental health, understanding the programs that are available to guide people through a mental health journey, the importance of self-care for myself and others, and an appreciation of the most passionate staff of CMHA Calgary who works every day to make a difference in the lives of our community members.”
Several instances come to mind when Kerry thinks of moments that have made her smile throughout her time with CMHA Calgary.
“On a tour of the congregate homes, in which CMHA Calgary staff provide support and guidance for community members who are in need of a safe place to stay, I was very taken with the impactful programs being offered to the residents. In particular, a cooking program was taking place where some of the residents were completely engaged in planning the menu with staff, creating a grocery list, laughing with and teasing the CMHA Calgary staff. I was very touched with the scene and extremely impressed with and proud of the staff working in the homes.”
As part of her role, Kerry participates in committee meetings that influence CMHA Calgary’s fundraising, partnerships and community connections. She is joined by four other Board members, and assisted by Director of Philanthropy and Stewardship, Karen Gallagher-Burt and her team.
“One huge benefit from all volunteer positions is the opportunity to learn more about our community, its challenges, and the amazing organizations with missions to help our communities move forward.”Kerry Brown | CMHA Calgary Board Member
Although the agenda is work-related and there are lots of tasks to accomplish, the group take moments to laugh and enjoy each other’s company, even through virtual means.
“The good humour and energy brought to this work by all of those involved continually makes me smile,” Kerry said.
When asked what mental health means to her, Kerry found herself focusing on the idea that resiliency, although a tough skill to build and put into action, is necessary to acquire all of life’s challenges that get thrown your way.
“This is an important question, however challenging to answer. Of course, the past year has shone a light on mental health in our city, country, and globally. I suspect that every individual has a different idea of what mental health means to them. Personally, I have come to feel that a big indicator of reasonable mental health is the ability to “roll with” what happens in one’s life. To be able to experience life’s roller coaster and process the experiences while in some way working through the reactions and impacts. What this process looks like will vary significantly from person to person and no doubt for all of us is messy at times. However, with support from family and friends, and organizations such as CMHA Calgary, we are able to work through these experiences and move on.”
Aligning with her self-care regime, Kerry is participating in CMHA Calgary’s Energize Don’t Hide 2021 Challenge. Whether it’s cycling, walking, weight training, golfing, skiing, etc., she finds wellness in activity and movement.
“I am a big believer in the role of physical health in mental health and find that being active is an enormous help to me. In addition, I am blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful family and many friends, who I lean on when “things” require someone to help me work through them.”
How To Celebrate Volunteers
There are many ways communities can recognize volunteers during National Volunteer Week, and all year round, while practicing safe health measures. As we seize the opportunity to shift our paradigms on meaningful volunteer engagement roles, practices and recognition, we can embrace change, just as #VolunteersBringChange, as we build and strengthen engagement (Volunteer Canada, 2021).
For more information on the event, as well as social media graphics, posters and colouring pages, please visit the official National Volunteer Week 2021 website.
Let’s spend this special week making sure all Canadian volunteers get the applause and appreciation they deserve.
Volunteer Canada (2021, April). The Value of One, The Power of Many. https://volunteer.ca/index.php?MenuItemID=455