Karen Long, from the Langley Volunteer Bureau, participated in a cards for seniors program last Christmas. A similar initiative is under way at present with the goal of supplying more than 3,000 cards to local seniors for Remembrance Day 2021. (Special to Black Press Media)

Karen Long, from the Langley Volunteer Bureau, participated in a cards for seniors program last Christmas. A similar initiative is under way at present with the goal of supplying more than 3,000 cards to local seniors for Remembrance Day 2021. (Special to Black Press Media)

Bureau draws more youth into Langley’s volunteer arena

A new initiative and the public’s willingness to help others are increasing volunteer signups

A new initiative is afoot to engage more youth in the volunteer world of Langley.

Langley Volunteer Bureau has recently connected with the Langley school district on a new program sure to benefit all involved, said Karen Long, president of the Langley Volunteer Bureau.

The bureau has connected with career advisors at the secondary school level, as well as its non-profit members, and ultimately brought those two groups together in the name of volunteerism.

The bureau is providing high school students options to volunteer and receive credits towards graduation.

Since launching the bureau in fall 2016, there have been several “successful” efforts made to bridge the divide between those wanting to volunteer and those organizations and events in need of help. But none have excited Long as much as this one.

Admittedly, Long said, there may be fewer in-person opportunities available for people in Langley to volunteer right now, as a direct result of COVID-19 safety restrictions.

But that hasn’t slowed people’s interest, and she sees that reflected in the numbers.

The number of volunteers who have signed up through the bureau has grown more than 50 per cent last spring, recently reaching the 1,030 mark, she said.

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Similarly, Long noted, there are now more than 50 non-profit organizations that partner with the bureau and recruit volunteers through the agency.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, many in-person volunteer positions were put on hold,” she said. “But they were soon replaced with remote and virtual opportunities.”

These included programs to increase non-profits awareness in the community by strengthening their social media platforms, providing online learning, conducting research, and reaching out to clients online or by phone, Long elaborated, , noting national volunteer week runs April 18 to 24.

There has also been an increase in positions that assist seniors with shopping, driving to their appointments, and meal delivery.

Since January 2020, the Langley Volunteer Bureau has referred more than 500 volunteers to 25 non-profit organizations in need of help.

“These statistics are overwhelming considering the current restrictions and prove that community really comes together when there is a need,” she said, noting they currently have about 90 volunteer positions posted on their volunteer website, that include a wide range of opportunities.

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“Volunteers or anyone thinking about volunteering, no matter their age or passions, should find an opportunity that interests them,” she said, noting drivers, meal packers, cashiers, gardeners/landscapers, parking attendants, bread bakers, youth mentors, fundraisers, and readers are all in need.

“We are continually growing our non-profit membership and as COVID-19 restrictions ease, we will see more volunteering opportunities open up in our community,” Long concluded.

For anyone thinking of volunteering, or a seasoned volunteer wanting to try something new, can learn more about the Langley Volunteer Bureau, its non-profit members, and its programs by visiting the website or emailing info@langleyvolunteers.ca.

“We are the gateway to volunteering in Langley,” Long said.

READ MORE: ‘Volunteering is what keeps social groups together; it is a human way of saying I care’

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