Wanderings – Volunteers build communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has broken the routines of life as we know it. Like many families, our family has had to deal with home-schooling, cancelled sports seasons, cancelled travel plans, and boredom.

In our family, one of the big disappointments this summer was the cancellation of the soccer season. Our kids have all had a soccer ball at their feet since they were old enough to walk. This season was the final year for our oldest son to play in the local soccer program. He aged out this year, and is off to college this fall. Like missing graduation ceremonies, this is another milestone, and memory, lost in 2020.

What I miss most about the soccer season though is volunteering. I know many parents who volunteer in their local sports programs like soccer, baseball, and hockey: they all miss coaching and helping others.

For me, seeing a soccer player score his/her first goal ever – having played the game several seasons – or a player overcome an obstacle like finally performing a proper throw-in after many attempts and much practice, is far more important than whatever the score sheet says. Most coaches I know, regardless of the sport, feel this way too. I miss that this summer.

I’m lucky to be part of a volunteer organization that makes a place on the soccer field for everyone, no matter what their abilities are. And I feel very fortunate to be part of the greater volunteer community in South Dundas, one that works hard to get things done in, and for, our community. Sports and non-sports volunteers alike contribute in what ways they can to make their community better. That’s what being a community volunteer means to me.

Being a volunteer doesn’t mean that you rely on others to do something. See a need, roll up your sleeves, offer to help, and do the work. The reward is the work in my opinion (I sound like my Dad here for some reason.) Volunteers build communities.

What’s great about living in a place like South Dundas is that most people don’t wait around for the government to offer money or direction in order to get things done.

One example: people here wanted a new playground and a splash pad in Morrisburg. So volunteers got together, created a plan, and got to work. Only after they had done most of the work planning, then set up a big chunk of fundraising, did that group go to the local government and say, “hey can you help out too?” That’s one project. But for every project or act I could write about on this ink-stained page, there are 10 more not written about. Most people don’t – and shouldn’t – wait for government to get involved to build their community.

There are some groups out there who complain that they have no support and the government isn’t helping them. It’s unfortunate those groups take that stance.

In my experience, people will support groups who are seen doing things, and not just talking about doing things. People also will support projects they know have a greater benefit for others.

As many people have had time off these last months due to the COVID-19 restrictions, I look forward to seeing lots of people out there with their sleeves rolled up building our community in many, many useful and different ways. I will be out there too.