Local groups say thanks to their dedicated volunteers


What would we do without our many local volunteers? Huntsville would be a very different place without their efforts to pitch in where they are needed with enthusiasm, spirit, and kindness.

For National Volunteer Week (April 10-16), we asked some local organizations to tell us what their volunteers mean to them. Here’s what they had to say:

“Our organization, Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group, was founded by a committed group of volunteers many years ago and still relies heavily on the selflessness of volunteers; from our board members to grocery shoppers, drivers, and those who take in women’s pets for us and even do gardening for our two shelters. Time is a finite and invaluable commodity and we truly appreciate all of those who are willing to share some of their time with MWAG.”
~Rachelle Walker, Executive Director, Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (Muskoka Interval House/Chrysalis)

“Volunteers are the backbone and heart of The Huntsville Theatre Company. They spend hours upon hours memorizing lines, developing their craft, sharing their creative vision, building sets, creating costumes, etc – year round. Whether they are on stage, behind the scenes, involved in one show or many, from our youngest member at 8 years old to our eldest 70+ – their love and passion for theatre, and particularly this theatre company, is evident every time they enter the Studio Theatre. It’s a theatre built with LOVE.”
~Jan Jacklin, Huntsville Theatre Company

Doubt a Parable Photo by Alastair Dunlop

The cast from Doubt: A Parable (front from left) Teal Cochrane, Lynn Jackson (stage manager), Lauren Saunders; (back from left) Veronica Leonard, Greg Perras, Greg Hancock (director). Photo: Alastair Dunlop.

“Over the years, I have sat on many boards and committees that rely heavily on a volunteer base. They are a vital part of running any large event. Recently, having hosted The U-18 Women’s National Hockey Championships this past November, I would say without hesitation that without the dedicated volunteer base that we had we could have never been so successful. We had roughly 200 volunteers that gave unselfishly of their time. We tried very hard to recognize them afterwards with a big party and gifts, but saying a mere “Thank You” somehow just doesn’t seem to be enough. Huntsville is a blessed community. Volunteers make the community work…”
Wendy McConnell, Chair, U-18 Women’s National Hockey Championships (Nov 4-8, 2015)

“(TriMuskoka‘s) triathlon events could not function without volunteers that put in countless hours on both the day of events, but for many, many months leading into the event weekend. The Ironman events that we have here light on anywhere between 800 and 1500 volunteers: 800 were required for the 70.3 which sees over 1500 athletes participate; the full Ironman has just over 1200 athletes making the volunteer to athlete ratio better than one-to-one. The TriMuskokan Short Course Triathlon and Try-a-Tri that our club organizes requires around 60 volunteers, which sees a lot of turnover year to year since so many of our volunteers come out and see that this is a great community event with an achievable fitness goal, and they sign up for the event next year! Our community is so blessed to have people that are engaged and interested in making sure that our community puts our best foot forward for these events.  It is these events that enrich the social fabric of our community, the health and wellness of our community residents, and the experience that tourists have when coming to our area all year long.”
~Rich Trenholm, President of TriMuskoka

TriMuskoka volunteers help Ironman triathletes during the swim, bike and run courses, and both cheer them on and help those who need it at the finish line.

Habitat for Humanity is first and foremost a volunteer organization. Put simply, Habitat is the sum of the work and tireless effort put forth by our remarkable community of volunteers. The Habitat model, mission, and objectives, all begin with community mobilization.

“Volunteering for Habitat takes on many forms. Our volunteers work in the ReStore pricing, merchandising and assisting customers. They work on our build sites, creating affordable housing in the community for families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to own a home. They lead the charge as Chapter members and help navigate the challenges of such a large multi-faceted organization. They are the face of our program, and the light of our operations.

“We recognize the work of all volunteers this week, but as a community we are indebted to these helping hands all year long. So, we hope all of the area volunteers enjoy potluck lunches and feel heartfelt appreciation this week. And, although praise is hardly ever sought by these spirited community members, please help us in heaping it on all the same.

Thank you volunteers, thank you!”

*Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North ReStore volunteers worked over 14,000 hours in 2015!
~Greg Cowan, Communications Officer, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North

“Muskoka Seniors Staff and Board of Directors would like to sincerely thank all of our volunteers for unselfishly giving of their most valuable possession … TIME. These people share a commitment to helping our senior citizens by providing them with transportation to various appointments, touching someone’s day by a visit or picking up the phone to let them know they are being thought about. In addition, without our volunteers we would certainly not be able to maintain our weekly Friendship Luncheons.

“These extraordinary individuals are committed to improving the quality of life in our community for a very precious resource: our seniors. In return, they have the opportunity to explore new challenges and expand their own horizons with the gift of firsthand knowledge and wisdom. I am always astonished at the end of each month when I compile my statistics and observe with surprise the number of hours our volunteers give of themselves. Many of our requests are last minute, and yet they are accepted with an enthusiasm and willingness that is above and beyond the call of duty. They are indisputable signs of a truly generous and caring spirit.

“God loveth a cheerful giver, and so do the staff at Muskoka Seniors. We are most grateful for each and every one of you and we feel very privileged and blessed you have chosen to be a part of our family.”
~Karen Waters, Assistant Director, Muskoka Seniors

Volunteer Appreciation Gala celebrating Muskoka Seniors 25th Anniversary at the Algonquin Theatre. Photos: Jenny Kirkpatrick.

Our volunteers are the heartbeat of the Algonquin Theatre: they are our ushers and our greeters, and they work diligently behind the scenes performing technical, stage management and set-up roles to help ensure our shows run smoothly. We are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated group of more than 130 volunteers, some that have been with the Theatre since day one – what an incredible 10-year commitment!
~Matt Huddlestone, Algonquin Theatre Manager

“Thousands of people in and around Huntsville volunteer tens of thousands of hours, generate ideas and give generously to support your hospital. Each and everyone is a leader and our thank-you is heartfelt. To our Huntsville Hospital Foundation Board for 100% commitment; every Board member gives financially and volunteers countless hours. To local business leaders and the creators of Business Cares; thanks for mobilizing Huntsville’s entrepreneurial spirit. To our many volunteer committees – The Earl Laberge Golf Tournament, Night on The Hill, Gala, Bigwin Golf, Moms for Moms, Golf Fore The Girls – and so many more; thank you all for such spirit.”
~Britta Gerwin, Huntsville Hospital Foundation

The Huntsville Hospital Foundation Board of Directors

The Huntsville Hospital Foundation Board of Directors

“At Hospice Huntsville we are so very fortunate to have nearly 100 volunteers. Their dedication and energy is the secret to our success. They are the heart and soul of all aspects of Hospice. Volunteers match their gifts, talents and interests with a range of roles from Board, committee and fund-raising work, maintenance, gardening through to residential, grief support and volunteer visitors. Our community is enriched by their work. We are grateful to each one of our volunteers.”
~Melissa Polischuk, Fundraising & PR Coordinator, Hospice Huntsville

Huntsville Public Library is indeed a community-led library and is supported by enthusiastic, generous, creative, and determined volunteers that allow us to provide services, programs, collections and tools that engage users of all ages. For over 20 years, the Friends of the Library have participated in fundraising initiatives that have allowed us to purchase shelving, furniture, equipment and more, and with Youth Services Librarian Amber McNair have planned and hosted March Break and Summer Reading Club Performances. Other volunteers jump right in to helping with all tasks – stocking the Little Free Library, interviewing long time residents for Huntsville Oral Histories, shelf reading, processing new materials, and assisting with programs. We are very lucky to have such a supportive volunteer community.
~Deborah Duce, CEO/Chief Librarian, Huntsville Public Library


Do you work with volunteers or have you benefitted from the wonderful work they do? Leave your comments and kudos below!

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