Volunteering doesn't have to be all about serving food at a soup kitchen. There are many great choices for volunteer activities in Calgary and many of the fit with specific passions. From art assistants to animal foster homes, there are plenty of great opportunities to volunteer throughout the city. Here are some of the best choices.
Dog Adoption Program at Animal Rescue Foundation of Alberta
You can volunteer to call applicants looking to adopt a dog through ARF and spend a half-hour providing a telephone interview. You will be part of the process of ensuring dogs end up in good homes. Find more information about this opportunity at arf.ab.ca.
Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council
If you're willing to help immigrants coming to the city, this is the right opportunity for you. Mentors work with immigrants and help them find a job, understand how their profession works in Canada and provide general support. This is only a 1.5 hour commitment every week for 16 weeks and meetings can be any time that works for you and your mentee. For more information contact Bruce Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals on Wheels
This program is designed to provide vital nutrition for senior citizens. They also reach out to children and working homeless. Meals on Wheels delivers 365 days a year. Deliveries are made between 11am to 1pm each day.
Volunteers are needed to help make deliveries to those who are in need. If you would like to volunteer, you will need to fill out the online enquiry, complete a reference and police check, and have a valid drivers licence. It is also required that you have your own vehicle.
Volunteers for the Theatre Calgary will be stationed in the coat check area and will assist guests. In Febuary alone, the Theatre Calgary is requesting 16 volunteers to help during the showing of The Philadelphia Story. To volunteer, you need to send an email to the Theatre Calgary. You will want to show up 30 minutes before your volunteer shift to receive a brief training on what your duties are.
The Calgary Women's Centre
The Calgary Women’s Centre always sees a lot of traffic after the holiday season. This organization is specifically designed to help women with emergency food, every day needs, legal and tax advice, as well as individual support.
Support is an important part of the centre, as being there and listening is a vital need for women who visit. To volunteer, you will need to fill out an online application, go through an interview process and attend a training session.
Home Start Program - Moms Helping Moms
Helping a mom that is trying to raise a young family can be very rewarding. This program allows volunteers to help new moms in their home with many aspects, such as postpartum depression, isolation, sleep deprivation and more. For more information contact Lynn Brownell at email@example.com.
Other organizations who need volunteers include:
- Dress for Success Calgary
- Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta
- Fort Calgary - Board Director
- Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank Association
- MEOW Foundation
- Centre for Newcomers
- Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta
- Drop-In Centre
- Green Calgary
- Big Brothers and Sisters
- Rotary Club of Calgary
- Boys and Girls Club of Calgary
- Rock the House Run
- Alzheimer Calgary
- Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids
- Discovery House
There are hundreds of volunteer positions available throughout the city. Apply to one by calling them up or by reaching out to a volunteer centre to be guided to a charity where your skills are most needed.
The Purpose of Volunteer Centres
Organized volunteerism really became big in Calgary and the country at large during the Second World War. People were stepping forward to donate their time and in Canada’s urban communities, there needed to be an organized way to deploy volunteers to where they were most needed.
In 1955 in Calgary, the Junior League formally opened The Central Volunteer Bureau. Through this organization, the volunteer movement made some excellent advances in the field, including volunteerism in the workplace, among our youth and among highly-skilled individuals.
So, when 1988 rolled around, the Calgary volunteer scene was pretty much in place and we became a showcase for how to organize and optimize our already enthusiastic volunteer base. It went from something we did well to something that has become part of our Calgary culture.
After the Olympics, in the early 1990s it became apparent that organizations that relied on the volunteer sector needed assistance in helping their volunteers feel more engaged by providing a more meaningful volunteer experience. The volunteer centre began to offer workshops for organizations to recruit and retain volunteers to help strengthen Calgary organizations in the social sector.
The Calgary Volunteer Centre was rebranded Propellus in 2012 in recognition of volunteers as a vital resource for Calgary’s not-profit community and through its website, offers a huge database of volunteer opportunities in Calgary.
Propellus now helps more than 500 agencies and non-profit organizations manage a huge portfolio of activities, right down to business planning, designing program delivery, assisting with organizational culture and the challenging issue of board governance. They have a variety of online learning opportunities and other resources such as workshops, consulting and peer learning events.
How to Get Involved by Volunteering in Calgary
Do you know what sort of volunteer work that would capture your imagination? Do you enjoy working with children, youth or seniors? Helping young mothers or teens with challenges? Do you like education, science, sports or arts? If you’re not even sure how to apply your talents and strengths or availability in a volunteer capacity, you can also browse through volunteer opportunity listings and find something that really speaks to you.
Visit the website as Propellus.org and browse the listings. You are then encouraged to contact the organization directly. You will likely have to fill out a form or an application. Don’t be discouraged that volunteering is more of a process than you thought. Organizations would like to know who you are and what you do best. If there aren’t any posting for volunteer opportunities in a field you’re interested in, you can set up an email alert so that a customized list of spots can be sent directly to you on a regular basis.
It is also for your security and for theirs that you provide as much information as possible. Here’s a checklist of what to be prepared for:
- Complete an online application form
- Forward a current resume and supply an appropriate list of references
- Meet for a face-to-face interview
- Get a background check and clearance through the Calgary Police Service
- Attend training specific to your volunteer role
Volunteering in the 21st century is treated much like seeking employment. Organizations and agencies must take care in selecting individuals who will take the volunteer commitment seriously. Just because volunteers aren’t paid doesn’t mean the role they’re taking on is any less importance. A volunteer’s currency is pride, accomplishment and an enhanced sense of well-being and belonging. These are all worthy ambitions and volunteers must be selected with care and respect.
Regardless of the time of year, you can always find somewhere to volunteer in Calgary.
Justin Havre is the top producing REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, Canada's very first RE/MAX brokerage. Calgary real estate is his passion; Justin specializes in Southwest & Northwest Calgary homes for sale. He can be reached at 403.217.0003 or contacted through this site.