By PATRICIA SILVER
They say “it takes a village”….and it takes an army of volunteers for the village to flourish. That’s what we have in the Beach.
Whether it’s delivering newspapers or food, assisting with events, or providing a safe haven, volunteers make the Beach a kind and caring community.
There are daily interfaith lunches, community cleanups, residents’ associations, a historical board, and more in our community. And annually, we recognize the unsung heroes with the honour being chosen as Beach Citizen of the Year.
The help of volunteers is vital to so many in our community.
“We couldn’t do our Christmas outreach without the 500 volunteers,” said Debbie Visconti, Executive Director of Community Centre 55.
“Hundreds of volunteers make a difference in people’s lives with after school activities, Meals on Wheels, newcomer programs and more,” said Mary Christie, Board Chair of Neighbourhood Group and Beach Citizen of the Year, 2007.
“Beach Metro News couldn’t manage without its hundreds of carriers,” said Sheila Blinoff, Beach Citizen of the Year, 2018.
The school board recognizes not only the need to the community of the student volunteer hours contributed but also the learning that sets students on a path of contributing to society. It requires high school students to log 40 volunteer hours in order to graduate.
My volunteer time is now spent with SING! The Toronto Vocals Arts Festival, Canada’s premier a cappella festival.
We started with seven volunteers brainstorming at my kitchen table, contributing their time, expertise, and a small investment.
It has grown to hundreds of volunteers who assist with artists, help audience members, manage logistics, drive, coordinate social media, handle finance, and more, so that we can produce a 10-day festival that brings in 17,000 people in late May.
And the rewards are plentiful.
“Through volunteering, I have met wonderful people, learned so much, and had my life enriched beyond whatever I have done for others,” said Mary Christie.
“Volunteering offers us the chance to apply each of our unique skills and knowledge, while experiencing wonderful personal growth, either to share our good fortune with those who for so many reasons fall between the cracks, or simply to support a local arts group who bring the talents and beauty of life to our communities,” said Leigh Smout, Beacher and SING Toronto Board Member.
As for me, as Co-Manager of SING! I’ve travelled the world with a cappella groups, met “superstar” singers and emerging artists, worked alongside other passionate music volunteers, and felt a sense of pride when people say “this is the best concert I’ve ever seen”.
Do you know someone who should be recognized for their broad spectrum of volunteering over a long period of time, someone who inspires others to give back?
Nominate them to be the next Citizen of the Year at www.beachcitizenaward.org
Oh – and I didn’t get paid to write this story. I’m a volunteer!
Patricia Silver was the Beach Citizen of the Year in 2010.