Without volunteers, Thunder Bay would not be the city its residents have come to know and love, says Deborah Poole-Hofmann.
On Monday the executive director of Volunteer Thunder Bay spent the afternoon handing out cake at Intercity Shopping Centre, drawing attention to the work of unpaid helpers that keep the city functioning for everyone.
“It would be a very sad city (without them),” she said, a day after national volunteer week kicked off. “If you think about it, even if it’s just your neighbour who helps you shovel your driveway, volunteering is a huge aspect and it’s what makes a sense of community.
“It’s what makes people feel good and safe and know that they work for a cause. It has so many aspects to it. But without volunteers we wouldn’t have very many services. We’d be missing so much.”
Poole-Hoffman said Thunder Bay is doing great in terms of getting volunteers on board, though she’d like to see the younger generation take a slightly more active role.
“It is a bit of an older crowd, but our youth program is doing very, very well where we’ve got the high school initiative. And last week we kicked off the Change the World Challenge, which is a big challenge for three weeks.”
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That’s about 800 young volunteers donating their time over the next three weeks.
Two of those volunteers are Jessica Perry, 15, and 15-year-old Kiarra Cerququeira, who spent the afternoon on cake detail, first cutting it with the help of Mayor Keith Hobbs, then serving it to hungry shoppers.
Jessica said she was there to help out, but also for practical reasons.
“I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to get some of my hours for high school,” she said, trying to shave off some of the 40 hours of volunteer work mandated to graduate from Ontario high schools.
“It’s not that hard if you just get out there and look for programs,” she said. “It’s helpful to the community too.”
Kiarra agreed, saying it helps to know what’s going on in your community.
“I think it makes a difference. It’s nice to help out,” she said. “Knowing that I helped someone out (is great).”
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