Editorial — Non-profits are making a difference

There are more than 900 non-profit groups operating out of Langley, with about 44,000 volunteers.

A study presented to Langley Township council on Monday confirms what many people instinctively know — Langley is a community of active volunteers, and one that makes a substantial difference in the lives of others, both locally and around the world.

There are more than 900 non-profit groups operating out of Langley, with about 44,000 volunteers.That is an amazing number. More than one-third of the population of the two Langleys is involved in volunteering.

One of the more interesting aspects of this volunteerism is that a large number of the operating non-profits are totally volunteer-run. As such, they are what presenters Dave Stark and Douglas Dunn call “the foundation of the iceberg.” They aren’t as visible as the larger organizations that often have paid staff.

However, the work they do is equally vital. They may not be able to raise $100,000 for a specific project, but through volunteer work they can make someone’s life better. It might be organizing the planting of trees to commemorate Canada’s fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, as two Langley teens have done. It might be raising money for a community theatre, as Langley’s Rotary club members are doing. Or it could be simply giving someone a ride to and from the cancer clinic.

All this volunteer work has a big impact on society, in both economic and non-economic ways. Dunn told council that the actual economic value of the non-profit sector is almost eight per cent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product, and it is quite likely  higher than that in Langley.

For an economic sector that large, non-profits get very little attention from governments or many other sectors of society. In fact, governments have steadily been cutting back on grants and other assistance to charities.

From a non-economic perspective, the work of non-profits and volunteers does a tremendous amount to make Langley (and Canada) better places. People are helped to live better lives, and in many cases they are encouraged to live their lives to a much fuller potential than they had dreamed was possible.

Abbotsford is known as

“Canada’s most generous city,”as it has had the largest charitable donations, per capita, across the country for nine years. Langley may one day be known as “Canada’s volunteer capital,” because people here love to give their time.