I can’t get enough of the autumn leaves. This time of year makes me homesick for my small town in rural Nova Scotia. Huge, old, maples line the street where my parents live and these days I’m brought back home as I shuffle through leaves on my way to work. I don’t just love the Fall colours, I enjoy reliving the childhood memories they stir.
One of my earliest memories of volunteering is of raking those colourful (and plentiful) leaves. One Saturday we piled into the car and headed over to a woman’s house. My mom knew her through church and she lived alone. We didn’t even knock on the door to announce ourselves before we began raking leaves and filling bags on her lawn like a kind of commando volunteer force. We hadn’t filled many bags before she noticed us and invited us in for hot chocolate and cookies. I was fortunate to learn the value of lending a hand early on.
My parents are the kind of people who volunteer on an almost daily basis, but wouldn’t consider their contribution to be more than being neighbourly or just being involved in their various communities. It may be characteristic of a typical rural Canadian town, but it fuels my inspiration for reflecting on informal volunteer involvement.
How do we blend of the spirit of informal volunteering and the professionalism of the well-managed volunteer program? What do you preserve in your volunteer management from your roots of informal community volunteering?