Canadian statistics show a decline in volunteer activity over the past 25 years, but having spent those years at Mount Allison I can certainly attest that this is not the case at this University! In my work as chaplain I have had many opportunities to connect with students in volunteer activities on campus, in the community, and also overseas. I know from my own experience that the spirit of service, involvement, and engagement is alive and well and this bodes well for the future of communities where Allisonians live.
To volunteer, or to be a volunteer, is, as the Latin root of the word suggests, to participate or engage in a service intentionally, willfully, freely, and without expectation of reward or profit. It is, in effect, to choose to do something because it is important to do it. To volunteer is to do something that matters.
Over the past two years, as chair of the Sackville Refugee Response Coalition (SRRC), I have been thrilled by the response of the community and the campus to the needs of the world, particularly its growing refugee crisis. With the support of over 200 volunteers, the SRRC has successfully settled three refugee families into new lives in Canada, along with additional family members. Volunteers have been a key part of our tremendous success, doing everything from providing translation to moving furniture, from washing bedding to child-minding, from giving educational and promotional presentations to making meals for new families.
Education is, in part, about preparing people to see the big picture and to serve. It is very rewarding to see the many volunteers stepping up to help those whose lives have been shattered, so that those lives can be restored and rebuilt in the caring community of Sackville. The many students involved are true volunteers, giving because it is the right thing to do. While there are no tangible rewards, these volunteers also know that in giving of themselves to causes and to people who matter, they are growing in spirit and receiving as much as they give.
Rev. John Perkin
Mount Allison University Chaplain
Founding Chair, Sackville Refugee Response Coalition