By Kelly Hodgson
I love learning about the Oakville community and finding ways to give back to this wonderful place where I get to raise my family. Through momstown Oakville, we have supported the Oakville Hospital Foundation, Fareshare Food Bank & The Basketeers but I know that there is more I can do personally and that I can rally moms together through momstown to make a bigger impact on giving back. But honestly, one of the biggest questions that comes to mind when I think of that is, HOW?
My question is really two fold. How do I find chairtable opportunities in the community that fit with what I can offer and how do I fit time into my schedule for volunteering? Having a young family makes free time very hard to come by but I know there has to be a way to do something.
And so these questions were some of the things Bonnie Jackson and I talked about. Bonnie began volunteering with the Junvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) of Toronto after her oldest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of five. She had three young children at the time – 5, 4 and 3 years of age. Her time with JDRF was the catapult experience that led her to then go on and volunteer with Oakville Community Foundation (OCF), Oakville Hospital Foundation (OHF), YMCA of Oakville and Wellspring Cancer Support Network, among others. Her 37 years of active volunteering is inspiring, and Bonnie was awarded the Govenor General's Caring Canadian Award this past February.
So back to my questions, HOW can moms make a difference in their community? Here are three great suggestions from Bonnie.
1. Find a way to experience the joy of giving.
How does this make a difference? Because it makes people happier! Moms give so much to their kids but its a different feeling when you are able to give back to the community. Its a great way to keep some of your own time by making it a priority to give back to something that matters to you.
2. Lead by example.
Bonnie and I talked about the trend in birthdays – the giftless birthday party. This is a great place to start as a family – have the conversation about other options besides presents. Sit down as a family and discuss a holiday project that will help those in need. When your children are present, do simple things like feed someone's expired parking meter, shovel a neighbours driveway, welcome a new neighbour.
3. What You Do Matters.
It is okay to start small. Don't feel that because you don't have a lot of time or money to give that you might as well not do anything at all. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Research options in your community that you may want to learn more about. Most local charities have a Facebook page where they post updates about what they might need or how people can help.
Join a group that works together to help better the community. momstown Oakville will be starting a quarterly night out where we do something that helps those in need. Its more fun to do it as a group and also helps busy moms give back when something is already organized and planned.
My thanks to Bonnie for our coffee chat and the chance to learn more about so many options in our own community to provide support to those who need it.