By Alex Gesheva, Creston Valley Community Foundation Board
November is Philanthropy Month in Creston. And, while the word often carries connotations of financial giving, the original Greek meaning of the word is simply “love of humanity”.
In a time of growing financial uncertainty, unrest, and struggle for many Canadians and families in Creston, it is vital to define philanthropy simply as an act of selfless giving. What individuals can give depends entirely on their situation and capacity – and time really can be as good as money. While money is always needed and welcome for local groups, when money is short, consider shifting your philanthropic goals to giving some time to a cause you believe in.
There is widespread agreement that volunteering helps build safer, stronger communities and that social networks can ultimately make all the difference when systems are strained.
This November, the Creston Valley Community Foundation salutes donors and volunteers in our community who provide everything from invaluable services at the Gleaners stores and Food Bank; organization of the Blossom Festival, Fall Fairs and parades; maintaining trails, gardens, and parks; community planning support; beautification projects; and that intangible feeling of belonging. Without them, our town would be a quieter, sadder place to live.
Throughout the pandemic, local volunteer groups took on unprecedented burdens. Dutch researcher Paul Dekker argued that there is simply “more voluntary work to be done today than in the past”. There are more older people to visit, more help needed at schools by parent volunteers, more areas to clean up and so on.
Essentially, there is already a problem if the number of volunteers simply remains the same. In smaller communities, this is especially true as more services and amenities are provided by the contributions of grassroots local groups. Individual capacity, availability and skills may change, but the need for help remains or grows.
In a 2021 opinion from the European Economic and Social Committee, rapporteur Krzsysztof Pater stated: “It is time to open our eyes and say that the future will not be built by decision-makers, politicians or civil society organisations, but by active citizens and volunteers – by people who devote their free time to the benefit of society.”
Throughout November, in honour of National Philanthropy Day on November 15, ask yourself what future you would like to build, and then take another step, no matter how small, in building it.