The heart of the volunteer

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When we used to organize our tournaments, we’d look for volunteers to help out. Their question would be, “Well, how much do I get paid?” I’ll leave that there. It was funny sometimes when the search for volunteers was returned with a reply like that.

One thing we always appreciate are those who help for any cause without question or hesitation. We see a lot of this during the Christmas season when everyone gathers to make sure all families can enjoy the festive season for the sake of the children. I envy the person who can drop everything for a worthy and selfless cause. When there is an event that gives to the less fortunate, it brightens one’s heart when we see the spirit it brings to not only give but also take that time to deliver. During the festive season we see boxes and boxes of groceries and gifts being delivered.

We also see some who work year-round making sure families from other Native communities are well clothed throughout the seasons. The kilometres that are put in to transport all of this must be tiring but must be satisfying knowing that a child won’t be walking around in the cold winter months in a summer jacket.

We would also see similar people give their time and money to the needs of the little ones for recreational purposes. Hockey, broomball, softball and basketball are among those sports where we see parents and coaches give endless time and devotion so that the little ones enjoy life to the fullest.

There are probably many areas where we see this, but one volunteer we will never forget is the one who helps in a search-and-rescue effort. Throughout my life, I’ve seen many men and women work from dawn to darkness in the relentless effort in hopes of finding a lost or missing community member. The hope is always that a positive outcome will be there. This love that one has for their fellow man and woman is evident throughout Eeyou Istchee.

None of these people would pat themselves on the back and tell the world what a great job they’ve done. They see (or hear) a calling and drop everything to go in and help where they can. The work they do has no monetary value, it is the kind of work that can only paid through gratitude from a heartfelt hug or gesture.

I offer some long overdue gratitude to every volunteer who has given to their community. Most communities give recognition to these volunteers, but from what I see there is never enough. What we don’t see is the volunteer going home after putting in a full day’s work, and no income coming in. At home, the wife or husband waits ready to feed or comfort them for all their effort. This kind of love keeps our people bonded – we care for each other no matter what.

I sincerely hope we all take the time to say “thank you” to those who have put in their time and love for the needs of others. Their hearts are pure, their love for their people is genuine and their actions will never be forgotten. The irreplaceable volunteer shows us that many things in life can bring us happiness, but a selfless deed is one act that brings true meaning to our lives. It fills our hearts with the knowledge that we did something right.

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