Volunteers are green power

This is one powerful week – as we celebrate volunteers and the planet.

It’s National Volunteer Week and Earth Day whirred by on Tuesday.

Volunteering keeps us physically and mentally motivated. It keeps us active.

Volunteering enables us to learn new skills, meet new people and experience a change of pace while helping others. It’s a great way to give back to the community.

It is thanks to volunteers that we have such a rich community life.

Many of this community’s education, health care and other institutions run on volunteer power.

Think of the schools – their governing boards are powered by volunteer parent and teacher power. Jeffery Hale’s Community Services is powered by volunteer power in the kitchen, on the phone, babysitting. At Saint Brigid’s, volunteer power raises funds for essentials and extras, from beds to bird fountains and gardens.

Celebrating Earth Day during National Volunteer Week makes perfect sense.

Volunteers are a source of green power in our community. Volunteers are a financially friendly source of energy for organizations! Without them, many activities simply would not happen. As our communities grow older and our youth leave to follow their dreams, finding volunteers to carry on can resemble the uphill battle for sustainable development.

We need our volunteers so that as a community we can continue to grow. The funny thing is that we grow (though perhaps not greener) through volunteering.

Is it realistic to think that we could trim our environmental footprint and volunteer at the same time? Why not try it out this week?

Here are a couple of suggestions.

• Take that travel mug (or an old kitchen one) out for a walk – and bring a neighbour! People-watching together from a bench in the park can be a fine afternoon break. It’s a great way to exercise too.

• Go on an adventure with someone who could use a trip – and take the bus! You’ll see more and spend less on parking. Carry a backpack (or cloth bag), pick up a transfer and make a couple of stops along the way.

Earth Day reminds us that we live on one small planet and that our actions have consequences, big and small. The same goes for volunteering. Together our actions, big or small, add up.

We’re used to hearing about taking the bus, leaving the car at home and turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use.

It’s time to add volunteering to that list of planet-friendly, energy-saving musts. It is a limited resource, one that we need to nurture.