Stephanie Hadley, the new coordinator for Stettler and District Volunteer Centre, is someone who can appreciate the value of volunteers in a community..
“I’m trying to promote the volunteer centre and to increase volunteerism in the Stettler region,” said Hadley, who graduated in 1991 as Stephanie LaRose from William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler.
“Volunteers are necessary and valuable in any community.”
Since she took up her new position in mid-October, Hadley has been busy promoting the four pillars of the service to recruit volunteers, provide presentations and education about volunteers to business and groups, provide resources and make referrals to groups about volunteers.
“We currently have several highly-skilled and qualified volunteers waiting on short-term or group opportunities and have found that we are not receiving adequate volunteer requests in order to place these applicants in a desired position.”
“We encourage local groups, events and businesses to consider putting in requests for volunteers whenever possible.”
To help establish a core of local people to assist organizations, she is leading a Leadership Training Initiative project with Stettler Adult Learning Council, with training scheduled to be complete in April.
“We are training a group of 12 seniors who will be available in the community to non-profit groups,” said Hadley.
These people will be skilled to help organizations complete grant applications, address conflict resolution, develop strategic planning, fundraising and recruiting volunteers.
Volunteers already play a strong role in the region.
“Festival of Lights is a prime example of how a major event started and staged by volunteers has become a major and valuable fundraiser in the community that supports the important local health care services,” said Hadley.
“Because of the vision and commitment of volunteers, this event has raised over $300,000 in the past several years.”
Volunteers also help sustain a community and help provide valuable services and programs.
Recent figures for Alberta show that 58 per cent of non-profit groups are run by volunteers, she said.
“If over half of local organizations didn’t have volunteers, a huge and important part of our community would be gone and some very necessary services would be lacking,” said Hadley.
Research also found what Canadians want in their volunteer experiences, how easy it is for them to find satisfying volunteer roles and what organizations can do to enhance their volunteer base and ultimately build stronger communities.
Types of people who volunteer are also changing, particularly as the population ages.
“Volunteer burn-out is a challenge these days,” said Hadley.
“Many of these people – especially seniors – are in several volunteer groups.”
Traditionally, volunteers serve long-term and are committed.
A small group of “uber volunteers” – committed and passionate – were responsible for the vast majority of volunteer hours.
Now the trend is that Baby Boomers and younger generations are looking for shorter-term service and projects as a group such as a family and people in a workplace.
These younger generations will have to carry on the work as the older volunteers retire from this service.
“We’re going to lose them in the next few years because they can no longer keep up as they were able in the past,” said Hadley.
Prior to returning home, she served for two years as a development officer for the Centre for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie.
“That’s what gave me the experience to work here,” said Hadley.
“It did of lot of community-building, program development and fundraising.”
Serving the region since April 1998, Stettler and District Volunteer Centre is a non-profit organization.
For more information, visit the centre located in the building of Stettler and District Family and Community Support Services on Main Street, phone 403-742-1155, online at www.stettlervolunteer.com, on Facebook at “Stettler Volunteer Centre” and on Twitter @