This week is National Volunteer Week across Canada – a week that's dedicated to celebrating the many volunteers from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia.
And according to the National Volunteer Week (NVW) website, this year marks the 68th annual NVW. "With 12.5 million (Canadians) dedicating their time across Canada, volunteers are leading positive change on all front: community health care, sports and recreation, heritage and arts, environmental protection and advocacy, disaster relief, international development, and volunteer firefighting – the list is endless," the website states. "The work of volunteers is essential to maintaining resilient communities at home and around the world."
The Minister Responsible for the Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector here in this province, Nick McGrath, said he knows first hand the importance of volunteering.
Minister McGrath said after growing up in St. John's, he moved to Lab West – and to become a part of his new community, he began volunteering.
He volunteered, he said, to let his new community know he was proud to be there.
"And I think that's how most volunteers look at it," Minister McGrath said. "Certainly, when you look at the theme this year of Volunteer Week, it's 'Volunteers...Passion, Action, Impact.' And that's what volunteering is all about. Most people don't volunteer because they're told to do it, they volunteer because they want to do it...the impact is what the whole province receives."
And in a province of 500,000 residents, Minister McGrath said 197,000 of those are registered volunteers, donating 35-million hours of their time, every year.
"Those numbers are just phenomenal, and I think it's something that needs to be celebrated and certainly recognized," he said.
Minister McGrath said the efforts are being noticed even outside the province.
Just last week, during meetings in Toronto, he said he saw proof of that.
"I was very proud to be there, representing the province...at those meetings. It was brought up by ministers from across Canada...that the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the things we're most renowned for? Is our ability to give," Minister McGrath said, adding most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take great pride in every minute they give of their time.
In the last 35 years, Minister McGrath has maintained his volunteer work through his involvement in Big Brothers Big Sisters, martial arts, the Lab West Regatta, theatre, Rotary and his church, just to name a few.
"And I love every minute of it," he said.
During the week, Minister McGrath will be visiting volunteers across the province, including a stop tonight at the Community Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion, Botwood, Peterview, Northern Arm at 7 p.m.
"I would just like to congratulate each and every one of (our volunteers)," Minister McGrath said. "Certainly recognize them for the great contribution that they give to the province and to our country as volunteers. And keep up the good work, because without them, we wouldn't really have a reason to get up in the morning."