On Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, Volunteer Peterborough officially launched during the high-energy Volunteer Expo at Trent University. During the day, hundreds of students and faculty learned about the mandate of this new matchmaking organization.
Founder Lois Tuffin opened the event with thanks and a welcome to all who attended. “My team and I are very excited to shared with you a new network that aims to include, inform and empower anyone living in this region who wants to volunteer,” she said.
“Over the past three years, many organizations had to shut down or severely restrict their volunteer activities. Unfortunately, rebuilding that capacity took longer and worked less effectively without a central place for people to connect and discover where their talents were needed.
“Well, that ends today.”
What is Volunteer Peterborough?
“VolunteerPeterborough.ca has worked with more than 100 agencies and non-profits to gather, post and shout out listings of where people can help. We have also signed up 100-plus volunteers who want to help so agencies can reach out them. Via a dynamic and clever website built by Countdown Creative, they can easily find each other by searching by cause, number of hours and skills required. Think of us as a job-hunting or matchmaking site.
“This movement has thrived due to common goals and collaboration by numerous people and organizations. Their involvement reflects how integral volunteers are to a connected, functional and caring community.”
Primarily, she acknowledged that the movement could never have succeeded to this point without the belief and support from its key partners:
- CEO Sarah Budd and the team at the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce
- Jayne Culbert, coordinator of Age-friendly Peterborough
- Jennifer DeBues, executive director at the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough
- Yvonne Lai and Andy Cragg at the New Canadians Centre
- Merrill Alton-Graham of Telecare Peterborough
- Sheridan Graham, CEO at the County of Peterborough
- The late Tom Phillips, then Ryan Sisson and Jessica Marlow of Trent University
Trent University and Volunteer Peterborough
“Thanks to advice from the late Tom Phillips, we turned our attention to engaging younger volunteers and researching any barriers that would prevent people of any age from getting involved. Enter the wonderful team at Trent University’s CareerSpace who lead our Volunteer Liaison Team.”
Next, Alison Scholl, Senior Manager of Community and External Relations, at Trent University, acknowledged the university’s presence on Indigenous territorial lands. Further, she expressed the excitement for the institution to play a role in the formation of such a vital organization.
Peterborough County and Volunteer Peterborough
“Vitally, we want volunteers to have the chance to help out in their communities, from Apsley to Havelock and everywhere across the county,” Lois resumed. “That’s why we invite groups from anywhere inside Peterborough County to sign up today. Due to this reach, we are grateful for support from the County of Peterborough.”
She introcued Emmanuel Pinto, Executive Assistant to the County Warden and Council. He shared the following message:
“Warden Bonnie Clark is sorry that she couldn’t be with you all here today. I am honoured to speak on her behalf this morning. Peterborough County is very proud to be a major funder of Volunteer Peterborough. This amazing new platform is brilliant for aspiring volunteers to find opportunities, for organizations to search and find talent, and for everyone to learn more about volunteerism, the people, and organizations working in our communities.”
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any community. Big or small, urban or rural. Many services that we regard as crucial to the wellbeing, culture and vibrancy of our communities rely on volunteers to operate.
“I want to give a huge shoutout, thank you and congratulations to the team behind Volunteer Peterborough for your bold vision and passion for a stronger Peterborough community. Peterborough County is fully supportive of your efforts, and we are looking forward to seeing all that will be accomplished and we look forward to working together with you to make this place we call home a better place. To all Trent students and other aspiring volunteers here today, I encourage you to join the movement; contribute to your community, build meaningful connections, and of course, have fun!”
Lois thanked Emmanuel for his kind words and pivoted to the next guest.
Meanwhile, students learned more about Volunteer Peterborough from Paula Greenwood at the Volunteer Expo booth.
City of Peterborough and Volunteer Peterborough
“When we started out, we didn’t realize that the City of Peterborough had created a Volunteer Task Force to help direct prospective helpers to causes who needed them. Once we connected, things really started to happen.”
She welcomed Joy Lachica, Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Town Ward, of the City of Peterborough, who shared her own message of congratulations.
“On behalf of Mayor Leal and Peterborough City Council, I’m extremely pleased to be here today at Trent University’s Student Volunteer Expo for the official launch of Volunteer Peterborough. Volunteers are so important to our City,” she said. “They fundraise for our charitable organizations, protect our green spaces, assist newcomers in our community, comfort our lonely and sick, and make it possible to offer sports and recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities.”
“They make our City a more compassionate, inclusive and vibrant place to live. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, recruiting volunteers has never been harder. That’s why Volunteer Peterborough is so important. Through its website and by bringing together partner organizations, volunteers will be matched with a variety of opportunities across the City.”
“The City of Peterborough is proud to partner with Volunteer Peterborough and contribute $5,000 to this match-making website through Age-friendly Peterborough. On behalf of the Mayor and Council, I want to thank all partners and all who have worked on this project, especially Lois Tuffin for her leadership in helping to get this off the ground. We look forward to seeing the success of this initiative in the months and years ahead.”
Lois wrapped up with her final comments.
“In summary, volunteers impact every facet of our lives. While you may envision them in health care, schools or fundraising events, they do so much more. For example, volunteers drive the success of large events, such as the World Lacrosse Championships, which also happened here at Trent – twice! They also step up during times of crisis, which we will help coordinate during future emergencies.
“Most of all, volunteering welcomes new people to the community and deepens the relationships between people who have lived here all their lives. Those human connections enrich so many lives.
“We invite everyone here to sign up to volunteer their way at VolunteerPeterborough.ca.”