September 30, 2020

By WENDY CZAKO-MAH

The push is on to get more people volunteering in Waterloo Region.
At a press conference on Oct. 2, the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) and the Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation (CNDCF), released its sixth annual Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs Priority Report.
The report was originally developed in Toronto by the Toronto Community Foundation in 2001. In 2007 both the KWCF and the CNDCF teamed up, preparing a report on the quality of life in Waterloo Region based on 11 key areas, including environment and the gap between rich and poor.
This year, in addition to releasing the report, which focuses on only four key areas  – Belonging and Leadership, Arts and Culture, Getting Started (immigrants and youth) and Health and Wellness – the two organizations created a new website to connect donors and volunteers with  non-profit and charitable organizations that do good work in the region.
The Centre for Community Knowledge website, www.cckwr.ca, offers visual images of the community first, followed by text explaining what the centre is and what it offers. It is hoped that those wishing to get involved will find it a great way to learn about volunteer opportunities and for donors to learn about worthwhile causes.
Rosemary Smith, CEO of the KWCF, spoke at the news conference about the program and its focus. Smith was quick to point out that without volunteers, programs such as the Random Act of Kindness Day couldn’t survive.
“Conestoga is so supportive; we’ve gone from eight volunteers to over 300,” Smith said. “If it were left to seven staff, it just wouldn’t happen.”
One of the four focuses is Getting Started, which looks at ensuring our children get a good start in education.
Machelle Denison, executive director of Strong Start, a reading program dedicated to ensuring all children learn to read, spoke about strong starts in our community and how important it is to attract volunteers and financial support.
Denison also talked about the over 2,500 children helped last year by over 2,000 volunteers.
There are approximately 18,000 non-profit and charitable organizations in Waterloo Region and as a volunteer looking to give back, or a donor looking to help, it can be difficult to decide where and how to do so.
The community now has a place to go, whether you’re a donor or volunteer. For more information visit www.cckwr.ca, www.wrvitalsigns.ca or www.kwcf.ca