Volunteerism still strong in Chilliwack, study finds

An overall finding from the 2014 survey was that respondents still consider Chilliwack to be a less complicated place to live.

Altruism is not dead. Nor is volunteerism.

The Chilliwack Social Research and Planning Council has been concerned about both matters. In the 2014 Quality of Life research, the findings of which were recently released by the Council, there continues to be a fairly strong commitment to volunteerism. In fact, 45% of respondents reported volunteering in the last year. That number may not capture the myriad of small ways people contribute, but more importantly, the number has not decreased since 2004 when the survey was first instituted. When asked why they volunteer, the most prominent reason was “to improve the community.” That reasoning has stayed the same in the survey in 2004, 2009 and now 2014.

An overall finding from the 2014 survey was that respondents still consider Chilliwack to be a less complicated place to live, retaining some of its pastoral/rural feel, although it is evident this is receding. Volunteering can play a significant role in maintaining and advancing the feeling of living in a less complicated and less stressful environment.

Here’s the logic. Volunteerism is related to a sense of contribution. Contribution is related to a sense of belonging. When we feel that we belong somewhere, we usually are more motivated to care for it and, ultimately, to feel safe. When we feel safe, we experience less stress. There’s no need to be on guard all the time. Volunteering is an opportunity to meet people and build a greater sense of community. There is a phrase coined in community psychology literature that speaks to this: place attachment.

Fostering a sense of place attachment isn’t the responsibility of the welcome wagon, the City or any particular agency. Instead, it’s something we can all build through our volunteerism. Essentially, whether you’re working with Big Brothers, Community Services, your faith community, amateur sports or Ann Davis Transition Services,  it’s all for the common good. Volunteering and altruism make us feel like we belong, but they also create a more welcoming and generous social space for everyone.

Former City Councillor and one-time School Administrator Mel Folkman told a story, the gist of which goes like this: As a new principal, he noticed that the school was being vandalized and the likely suspects were older kids, waiting for the bus to the secondary school. Mel wisely made a point to get to school early, and befriend and welcome these older students in. The vandalism stopped. Mel’s going above and beyond to welcome these students obviously had an impact on their sense of place. The school now mattered to them because they had a sense that they mattered to it.

There’s an old adage – “When you volunteer, you can get more than you give.”  This concept is living on in a growing body of psychological literature on the value of giving to others. Giving creates biological and psychological changes that improve our state of wellbeing. If you aren’t already volunteering, use your courage to reach out, find a service opportunity in the community, and try it. It may be one of the best things you ever did!

 

Dr. Robert Lees, R.Psych is the Community Psychologist for the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Chilliwack.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Chilliwack junior roller derby team celebrates long-awaited win over Seattle

NWO Junior Roller Derby hosted two games on the weekend against the Seattle Derby Brats

Violin meets piano in The Red Violin at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Jasper Wood joins the Bergmann Duo for an intimate morning concert in Chilliwack

Bold and brazen singer Begonia brings colourful show to Tractorgrease in Chilliwack

The musician from Winnipeg is equally comfortable singing lullabies, headbangers and ballads

PHOTOS: Home, Leisure and Outdoor Living Expo runs all weekend in Chilliwack

There are more than 250 vendors set up for the annual home show at Chilliwack Heritage Park

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Henderson at the Chilliwack SPCA

Henderson, also known as Biggy, has FIV, a virus similar to HIV in humans

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read