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Volunteer Manitoba: Connecting Volunteers To Community

In 1978, the United Way and Winnipeg Foundation acknowledged there needed to be an independent organization to support the voluntary sector and volunteerism here in Manitoba. That’s where the idea of Volunteer Manitoba (VM) was born. Since then, the organization has grown to meet the community’s needs by connecting people with volunteer opportunities, gathering knowledge, monitoring trends, building capacity, and celebrating and encouraging volunteerism and the value of giving back to your community. 

So many people are volunteering. A 2018 general survey found 74 per cent of Canadians volunteered informally, and 41 percent volunteered formally. Formal volunteering is an activity conducted without pay for a group or organization. Informal volunteering is an activity conducted without pay, not on behalf of a group or organization. Volunteers want to give their time and support their communities in various ways, and sometimes they need a helping hand to make that difference. VM is there to help.

Gloria Dovoh, Community Relations Coordinator, says their VM Youth Program engages young people (ages 15-29) and provides them with tools and resources to inspire them to get involved in their communities. Over the summer from May to August 2022, Volunteer Manitoba, in partnership with RBC Future Launch, Canada Life, and Winnipeg Foundation, started the Community Youth Innovators Program for youth passionate about serving their communities, teaming up with a host organization.  

“We had about 21 youth in total from six groups, and in their conversations when we had a final report, things had really gone well for all the youth members,” says Dovoh.  

These youth innovators created numerous programs across the province, including:

  • Fimbu Soccer & Mentorship Program. Host Organization: Manitoba African Cup of Nations Inc. (MACN)
  • Da-Mino Matisichic. Host Organization: Beatrice Wilson Health Centre
  • Personal Finance for Black Youth. Host Organization: Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc
  • Accessible Sport Awareness Program. Host Organization: Accessible Sport Connection Manitoba
  • Newcomer Youth Networking & Literacy support. Host Organization: Westman Immigrant Services (WIS)
  • Helping CommUNITY204. Host Organization: CommUNITY204 Inc.

View a complete list of details here.

VM Youth Program has numerous other ways to engage youth with volunteerism. In the Student Recruitment Phase Program, VM connects with various non-profits about opportunities available at post-secondary institutes where they can set up booths and share about what they’re doing in the community. But for anyone looking to start volunteering or organizations looking for volunteers, there’s a handy database available on VM’s website. 

If someone hasn’t volunteered, that’s okay. A lot happens in a person’s life, and they may not have time to explore that. Those in Gen Z doing formal volunteering reported that the motivation was improving job opportunities. Not all volunteering may be directly associated with skills you hope to refine or the career you want to pursue. You never know the people you’ll meet or the opportunities you may find.

“I know some students who want to go to medical school, and they want to do something specific,” says Dovoh. “You might not find a doctor on call that can mentor you because they’re busy trying to save lives. Sometimes you’d be surprised to find doctors who’re chill and relaxed. You may be helping an organization; another volunteer walks in, and you find out they’re a doctor. That’s where the relationship comes in, and maybe you can get some mentorship.”

VM is always looking to create those connections, inspiring Manitobans to take the initiative and find needs within their communities. For anyone interested in learning more or developing skills, VM launched a Training Calendar where people can increase skills, build confidence, and provide the opportunity to network. 


– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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