Every Moment Matters

Every Moment Matters

Della Massey, Community Learning Network

0 0 12 April 2024

[untitled] “Thank you for choosing me,” a volunteer tutor told me one day. Her comment caught me by surprise, yet it is one of those moments that I vividly remember because it had a powerful impact on me. This year, the theme for National Volunteer Week (April 14 – 20) is “Every Moment Matters,” which I love because it captures all those moments that just happen and the ones that we work so hard to plan for.

National Volunteer Week is a fantastic opportunity to show appreciation to our volunteers and to plan for some special celebrations, tea parties, public acknowledgements, fun activities, notes of appreciation and other creative expressions that show our volunteers how much we value them. And, as this year’s theme emphasizes, every moment matters. Therefore, in addition to all these great moments of celebration, some other moments that come to mind are:

First Contact

Whether the first time you connect with a potential volunteer is in person, by email, text or a phone call, this is an important moment. It makes me rather nervous to think of the impact this moment can have, as I am reminded of the research that suggests that within the first seven seconds, people make their first impressions of you. This includes assessing whether you're likable, trustworthy, and competent. Or, even more daunting, is research by two psychologists, Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov from Princeton, that concluded it only takes a tenth of a second to form a first impression. Yikes! That’s a lot of pressure as I reflect on my tone of voice, body posture, or the words I said. Thankfully, I also know that our best impressions are made when we are simply being ourselves. Phew!

The first time our volunteer tutor and learner met each other

The door opened to our centre and two people walked in at the same time (one held the door open for the other). They both stood there right beside each other, both not saying anything, looking around the room, and looking rather nervous and uncomfortable. I could not help but smile at the serendipity of this moment. I walked over and said hi, and then introduced them to each other. In that moment, I saw their shoulders relax, and both of their faces lit up with smiles as they looked at each other. This was the beginning of a great team (I do believe the 7 second, or tenth of a second, first impression worked very well in this situation).

Thank you

“Thank you for being here”, “thank you for helping her fill out that form”, “thank you for helping them understand how to use fractions”, “thank you for showing him how to connect with his family on Facebook”… There are so many thank you moments and they are always wonderful to experience. I am surprised by how often the "thank you" is reciprocated with appreciation for having the opportunity to contribute.

When I think of “Every Moment Matters “ there are so many times to consider: spontaneous moments, sharing a laugh, having a cup of coffee/tea together, talking about our families, brainstorming ideas, sharing resources, ah-ha moments, and the list goes on and on…

Volunteer Canada says “It’s in these moments, and the relationships between them, that we find greater purpose and a sense of belonging. By connecting and engaging with community, we come to know our importance. Volunteering matters. And by sharing these moments, we co-create the neighbourhoods, culture, and society we want to live in.”  https://volunteer.ca/index.php?MenuItemID=482 

To explore ways that we can show appreciation to our volunteers there is a great section in the Working With Volunteers: Your Greatest Partner e-learning called Retention and Recognition https://calp.ca/e-learning/?workshop=132&page=16  It includes insights from volunteers and volunteer coordinators about the value of recognizing volunteers and best ways to do it.

Wishing you many great moments!




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