Volunteer Dinner – 2018

Clapping Hands for Alberta Culture and Community ServicesDecember 12, 2018

Good evening, welcome to our Volunteers Holiday Dinner.

I know you are ready to enjoy a feast of Chinese food so I won’t keep you too long.

I am so glad you could attend; it’s one way we can say “Thank you” to you for a wealth of assistance and support during the year. I know I’ve said it many times, but it is worth saying again, that we could not do it without you: we could not provide the programs and services, and all the extras, without you, our volunteers. You really do make a difference; I hope you know it, and feel it inside.

We have 86 volunteers at the moment, and it’s pretty cool that 68 of them are consumers of our services. With many of our member volunteers, there’s always been a real sense of belonging, and some very strong emotional ties. I’ve heard many members say they “want to give back” to the agency, and do so by volunteering. Whatever your reasons are for volunteering, it’s all good. Our members are dealing with some extra challenges and obstacles and it can get complicated at times. I know it’s tough for you and I commend you for your determination to hold on tight to the positives. I also believe you inspire other members to think positive and act positive, and be the best they can be.

Our volunteers from the community are pretty terrific too. What a pleasure to work with such kind and caring individuals who are so supportive of the members and staff here. I can see that you fully understand and, like all of us at Elements, believe in the abilities of people with mental illness,

Let me tell you about our volunteers; you can find them all over our building.

On the main floor you might be seen providing some very welcomed and helpful clerical assistance. In the Support & Recreation Services area, you really are everywhere: front and centre in the Reception Room answering the phones and taking care of the members and staff, or working in the Tuck Shop, feeding the members and staff. You work in the LGFG clothing bank and “dress-up” our members from head to toe. Every day at lunch time, you are seen running a game with 15 to 20 members who might be lucky enough to win a prize, or we’ll see you calling Bingo and making at least 10 members pretty happy to select a prize. On Thursday mornings, if you’re in for the Relaxation Group, you’ll find an excellent volunteer contributing to the enjoyment of that program. On Thursday afternoons, you will see our Hobby Craft Volunteers lifting spirits and bringing the fun to arts and crafts.

When you head up to the 3rd floor you’ll see plenty going on in the Recycling Program. It’s a whole new world up there. The volunteers have been working overtime to de-clutter every single space; a ton of things have been re-donated, re-cycled, or re- gotten rid of. The place looks great and is way more user-friendly.

If you look around on Friday mornings, you might notice the team of Creative Clerical volunteers in the conference room taking care of piles of clerical duties and showing us how artistic they can be by making themed decorations and picture posters.

Some of the things you might not see at Elements, are the volunteers who work behind the scenes, like our Board of Directors and special Committee volunteers. We might not see them “in-action”, but we know they’re there because they make the really important decisions on behalf of all of us at Elements. You might not always notice the LGFG re-stockers either, who spend hours sorting through the donations so you can get some great clothes. For the Inter-Action Committee, you can see them at GMM’s and various functions, but not when they are meeting to plan and organize these events.

As well in the SRS, you might not see some of the “support” volunteers who care for the plants, sweep out front and back, deal with the pop and coffee supplies, or the volunteer gathering all the recyclables to deposit in the bin out back. Another behind the scenes volunteer has contributed to the social media committee, and was instrumental in having many professional pictures taken, both inside and outside of the Elements building.

We have so many amazing, talented, dependable, and hard-working volunteers at Elements; I am so proud of you. During the year, I’ve noticed a few things that I’d like to share with you:

You have really stepped it up in the Recycling Program. You’ve moved tons of “stuff” and it looks terrific up there; and you should feel really good about that.

Because of the limited space in the Tuck Shop cooler, you volunteer nearly every single day to keep up with pop sales.

You are honorable, and you are trustworthy.

You do collect and take the recyclables to the bin out back, and you collect from all 3 floors of the building.

There’s something about the Rec. volunteers. Only they seem to know their schedule. However you do it, you always get it done: every noon-hour game and both Friday and Sunday Bingo. You are there!

You have a great sense of humor.

Even though it seems a thankless job, you still sweep out front and out back so it can be clean for even a little while.

You recently volunteered for our fundraising casino at Cowboys. You know how important it is, and did not let us down, or even complain about the wicked hours or getting home after 3 in the morning.

You make it down to volunteer on the coldest and most miserable weather days.

Before I even think about it, you have already offered to volunteer on Christmas Day in the Tuck Shop, and on Phones.

You are a volunteer that we can count on.

You, are a member of the Inter-Action Committee and for months, you got members to write their sentiments in a “Memory Book”, one for Lynne and Brian who recently retired. To do so, you had many secret book-signing sessions to catch all the members, without you being caught by Lynne or Brian.

You are an absolute delight to work with.

You don’t want the members to miss out, so you committed yourself to all of the Tuck Shop shifts on the weekends, and all during the week.

You answer the phones, every weekend, and every single day.

You are giving, you are kind.

You make it seem like a party in Hobby Crafts every Thursday; you can’t carry as many boxes as Taya, but you do try your best.

34 of you began to volunteer for Elements in 2018. Not all of you made it through the year, but those of you who did, I’ll bet you found you’re pretty good at it, and you’re flourishing, and I sure hope you are pleased with your success.

Or maybe you began to volunteer quite a while ago; maybe a couple of years ago, or maybe 5 years ago, 10, 15, or for a few of you, even 20 years ago; and you can hardly believe it’s been that long, but you continue to thrive, shine brightly, and remain happy, happy to help.

The impact you make as a volunteer is both an individual one and a collective or “team” one. Individually, you give of yourself: your skills, your personality, past experiences, knowledge, energy, and you affect countless people, in a meaningful and often a subtle way.

As a team of volunteers, your impact is broader, enormous and influences the many different programs and services of Elements and ultimately, enhances every aspect of Elements; its members and staff.

I want to tell you that you are awesome volunteers and delightful people. I am so happy and proud to know you and work with you.

On behalf of the many lives you touch at Elements Calgary Mental Health Centre, I give you my deepest gratitude and highest regard. I wish every one of you a safe, warm and happy holiday season, and give you my very best thoughts and wishes, now and forever.

Have an excellent Christmas and New Years’ everyone. Thank you very much; you are terrific.

Bev Wadsworth