April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week. It’s time once again to say “thank you” with a big round of national applause and to recognize you locally for all that you do to enrich our communities. You, by your simple acts of kindness, encourage and nurture trust in people, trust in institutions, a sense of belonging, civic engagement at its best and a socially diverse and inclusive community.
The National Volunteer theme this year is “The Value of One, The Power of Many.” This simple mantra reflects upon the value of individual acts of kindness and how these small generous acts can grow into the power of many working together towards a common purpose.
Old Ottawa South is a community that is abundant with generous individuals acting independently and often together to engage with one another and to realize common goals. The Old Ottawa South Community Association (OSCA) is but one of the several organizations in our community that share a common purpose – to build a strong sense of community and to engage residents through its various programs, services, and activities.
You might wonder, how many volunteers does it take to keep a community association and centre active and engaged? Hundreds. For example, there are over 100 individuals and families involved in distributing over 4000 copies of our monthly newspaper The OSCAR and over 100 regular OSCAR contributors plus 5 proofreaders. OSCA’s Board of Directors currently adds up to 17, each of its 11 working committees includes 3-12 individuals, and then there are the numerous individuals who do not formally belong to the Board or Committees but who contribute according to their skill sets and availability.
It takes a lot of individual acts of generosity to create a groundswell of civic awareness and engagement. In recent months OSCA's Planning and Zoning Committee developed a detailed public response to the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan, working closely with residents in OOS, our Councillor Shawn Menard, and neighbouring communities in Capital Ward. Without the leadership of this group of volunteers it would have been next to impossible for any one resident to respond to the City’s 700-page Official Plan. The Planning and Zoning Committee proved once again “The Value of One, The Power of Many.”
Another committee that comes to mind is OSCA’s Environment and Climate Action Committee. This group of individuals has taken up the challenge to lead and act on key environmental issues affecting OOS and the greater Ottawa area. Four of their sub-groups play a role in key project areas: Trees, Climate Action, Plastics and Waste Reduction, and Natural Areas. Again, “The Value of One, The Power of Many.”
I could go on, there are so many volunteer activities in OOS. There are so many talented, skilled and generous individuals who recognize the value of one and the power of the collective. I haven’t even touched on the volunteer activities of youth in our neighbourhood, or the individuals who volunteer their administrative expertise to help OSCA manage its books and support our four-person staff at the Firehall or our Governance Committee who make sure our procedures and by-laws are observed and up-to-date. And who can forget the Green Dreamers who have tended local gardens for over six years?
If you browse through the OSCAR archives on our website you’ll see the work of our Traffic & Safety Committee who have been relentless about improving pedestrian safety in OOS and more recently on the Bank Street Bridge. Read about the work of our Senior Watch Group, our Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, the Nominations and Elections Committee, Finance, Communications, and Human Resources. All of these are made up of volunteers. All of these prove the value of one and the power of many.
So, let’s stand up for one brief moment and clap for our volunteers, our neighbours and our friends. Let’s also take a bow and be proud of our own individual contributions. We have so much to be grateful for, and so many people to thank.