Nfld. & Labrador

N.L's volunteers highlighted through National Volunteer Week

Nearly half of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians volunteer some of their time to help their communities, according to the Community Sector Council.

'We wouldn't be able to do what we do without them,' says Sgt. Danny Williams

Mabel Tilley, who volunteers with Central Avalon Ground Search and Rescue, says the rewards outweigh the challenges when volunteering to help her community. (Central Avalon Ground Search and Rescue/Facebook)

Although times have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers from across the province continue to give their efforts to help their community.

April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week. The week celebrates those who volunteer their time and money in their communities. According to Volunteer Canada, over 13 million Canadians volunteer time or money in their communities.

Newfoundland and Labrador is no exception. The Community Sector Council of Newfoundland and Labrador says 46 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians volunteer their time in the province.

Sgt. Danny Williams, who is in charge of search and rescue with the RCMP, says volunteers help keep things like search and rescue efforts alive in the province.

"They're the ones that come equipped and trained to accomplish what their missions are," Williams told The St. John's Morning Show. "And we wouldn't be able to do what we do without them."

Mabel Tilley, who volunteers as the co-ordinator of Central Avalon Ground Search and Rescue in Holyrood, said she has the rest of her volunteer team to thank for her success.

"It comes back to the team that I'm a part of," Tilley said. "I'm one person of 700 volunteers that are in Newfoundland and Labrador.… The teams all across Newfoundland and Labrador are very passionate about what they do."

Walter Harding has been volunteering his time to clean areas of St. John's for over 25 years. File photo. (CBC)

Like many volunteers, Tilley said she is motivated by helping people in her community and seeing what her work can do for her neighbours.

"It's the times when I've been in [the] Tim Hortons lineup and somebody come and tap me on the shoulder and says, 'Remember me? I was one of the people your team got out of the woods,'" Tilley said.

"Or even a hug from a stranger.… 'You were one of the people who brought my dad home.' I guess it's bringing the closure for the people and knowing that you helped somebody."

Walter Harding has volunteered his time organizing community cleanups in the province for over 25 years. He said he has learned a lot about the power of volunteering over time.

"I think sometimes people think, 'Well, my five minutes doesn't mean a thing.' It does mean a thing," Harding said. 

"You can pick up quite a bit of dirt in two, or five or 10 minutes, and I know a lot of people are doing it."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show