Message from the Chair

This was first published by CSAE Trillium in their FORUM newsletter on April 16, 2018. Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE was Chair of CSAE Trillium from October 2017 to October 2018


Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King Jr.

As anyone who knows me well can attest, I have been a minute taker for over 43 years. While this hasn’t been by intent or design, the start of my minute taking career began when I first became a volunteer in high school.

Both my parents were volunteers. Mom volunteered for the hospital auxiliary, was an unpaid teaching assistant at my sister’s elementary school, contributed her time at the local community centre assisting new immigrants and worked for Liberal MP Robert Kaplan on his political campaigns. Dad taught sailing, tutored students in calculus and literacy, was involved in his alumni association at Wordsworth College at U of T, he brought the Little Free Library movement to Toronto and as an 86 year old is bringing his stories and musical talents to seniors’ centres throughout the city.

So, as you can see I had great influencers who genetically mandated that I never stop being a volunteer.

Recently I was thinking about the myriad ways one can be a volunteer. As it so happens, I was trying to help one of our association members and introduced the concept of micro-volunteering. This individual is the incoming president for another association and didn’t have a great deal of capacity to take on a greater workload. Micro-volunteering appealed to him on so many levels and I was able to sign him up to become a mentor with our client association.

We all volunteer for different reasons.

We volunteer to be altruistic. Volunteering provides networking opportunities and professional development. Giving back makes you feel good. Being a volunteer enhances your profile. If not for volunteers, society would be less kind and compassionate, therefore, we volunteer to make the world a better place.

Volunteers are amongst us, both visible and unsung. A small handful of volunteers may seek praise and recognition but fortunately the majority consistently contribute because they feel it is the right thing to do.

And remember, you may not have direct impact on helping the homeless person sleeping on the subway grate down the street from your office, but because you volunteer your time working with a Scout troop perhaps you are steering a young person to a better, secure future. Or, perhaps you contribute your time to an organization that creates better awareness of mental health issues resulting in enhanced access to services for those in need. Or, you help to shape policy on how animals are cared for resulting in human/pet matches that result in improved population health. What you do as a volunteer truly matters and may help someone to lead a better, more meaningful life.

And whether you are a Trillium volunteer, a volunteer with your charity of choice, a care giver for an aging parent or you contribute to a professional or trade association, Happy National Volunteer Week. It takes place April 15 to 21, 2018 and this year’s theme is Celebrate the Value of Volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE
President – CSAE Trillium

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