Help a Brother, Sister, or Animal Out

I came across this tidbit in the government study “Volunteering in Canada” by Mireille Vézina and Susan Crompton:

In 2010, 88 per cent of Yukoners polled volunteered informally by doing things like shovelling a neighbour’s walkway, or taking tea to auntie.

Meanwhile, 45 per cent said they did not volunteer formally in their community because no one asked them to.

Which is funny, because your neighbour probably didn’t ask you to shovel her driveway either, but you still did. Nevertheless, many not-for-profit organizations and charities continually need formal volunteers.

The organization Volunteer Yukon has a long list of local organizations that are seeking volunteers – from spending time with youth through Big Brothers and Big Sisters Yukon, to being a volunteer fire fighter in Haines Junction, to being a radio host for CJUC 92.5 FM.

Some organizations only need one or two people, and then there are others, like the Humane Society, that are looking for 20 volunteers.

I spoke to Jan Slipetz, volunteer coordinator for the Humane Society Bingo, about the fun things their volunteers get to do.

“Bingo volunteers know their work is going to a good cause and that every Wednesday, a deposit goes into the bank for the animal shelter,” says Slipetz, who has lived in the Yukon since 1975 and has seven adopted dogs and three adopted cats. “All the volunteers love animals,” she says. “The people involved share that bond. The bingo is a social event, and the volunteers get to know the bingo players. There’s a lot of laughing.”

While Slipetz is quick to note that the bingo has “a great, dedicated core group of volunteers,” they also need to increase the numbers.

Bingo volunteers can work one of two shifts on Wednesdays at the Elk Lodge at 401 Hawkins Ave. During the 4 to 6 p.m. shift, three to four volunteers sell bingo cards, early birds, and bonanzas. Volunteer positions during the 6 to 9 p.m. shift include callers, cashier, and floorwalkers.

“Any time that people can give is great”, says Slipetz. “Once a month, twice a month, it doesn’t have to be a long commitment.”

To learn more about volunteering with the Humane Society Bingo call the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter (867) 633-6019.

Animals also play a role in companionship visits with the residents of Copper Ridge Place in Whitehorse.

Copper Ridge Place is part of the Yukon’s Health and Social Services branch, which also operates Macaulay Lodge, the Thomson Centre, and MacDonald Lodge.

Copper Ridge Place, the 96-bed residential care facility at 60 Lazulite Drive, is not just for seniors, but also for children and young adults. They are looking for 10 volunteers to join their team.

“Volunteer needs at Copper Ridge vary according to the residents’ needs, the number of residents, and their program preferences,” says volunteer coordinator Catherine Chenier. “Volunteers help with many different programs — the bingo, music, hand bells, friendly visits, baking, and working in the resident’s onsite store.”

And the fun doesn’t stop at the door.

“Volunteers can ask to take residents on bus outings to help with shopping, to have a lunch outing, or go to a museum,” says Chenier.

Some people have been volunteering at Copper Ridge Place for a very long time. Take Bob, for example.

“Bob brings his banjo and has been playing music for two hours every Wednesday night for the residents here for 18 years,” says Chenier.

Curious about what drives people like Bob, Chenier surveyed Health and Social Services volunteers, to ask why they do it.

“People want to pay it forward, give back to the community, broaden their experience, gain experience, and share their dogs,” Chenier says. “They find it rewarding and each have their own personal reason for contributing.”

All these personal reasons add up. Chenier calculated that between April 2012 and March 2013 volunteers put in 2,018 hours at Copper Ridge Place. At 7.5 hours per day, that’s 269 days of volunteer activity in 11 months.

“We have a big volunteer appreciation event once a year with food, gifts, recognition,” says Chenier, who has worked with Copper Ridge Place for two-and-a-half years after working as a community organizer in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec for 14 years.

“The appreciation events are a lot of fun,” Chenier says. “Volunteers appreciate being appreciated.”

Potential volunteers at Copper Ridge Place, Macaulay Lodge, Thomson Centre, and McDonald Lodge in Dawson City must go through an application process, including a pledge of confidentiality, and a police record check. To receive a volunteer package, please call Catherine Chenier at Volunteer Services at (867) 667-7508.

To learn more about other volunteer opportunities across the territory, check out the Volunteer Yukon website at, phone (867) 456-4304, or drop by the Yukon Volunteer office at 305 Wood Street, Whitehorse.

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