There is a line sung by the cast in the popular musical Rent that goes, “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”
This signature song is the perfect anthem for this time of year. National Volunteer Week is the annual celebration of those who selflessly give their time to benefit the lives of others—but how do you really measure, measure a year of volunteer support?
There are a couple of traditional ways, like counting the number of hours and years given to an organization, the dollar value of a volunteer’s time, or to calculate things like retention rates.
These numbers speak volumes, but during a year that continued to throw us curveballs, it does not always accurately represent a volunteer’s continued impact at NBRHC. Our volunteers add so much more to our organization.
It is important to move beyond these statistics and look at the individual acts of kindness contained in every hour.
Take for example, NBRHC volunteer Joanne Comerford.
As an Ambassador, Joanne was excited to return and assist patients and care partners navigate the Health Centre. Once a week, Joanne is available to answer questions and provide way-finding support to help people find their way around the hospital—it means she walks, a lot.
She started wearing the smartwatch, Fitbit to track her activity and typically, before most people have had their morning coffee, she has already clocked over 3,000 steps.
In every step, that’s a welcoming comfort to patients in their time of need. A friendly face for a stressed family member looking for their loved one. An extra pair of hands for our busy Pandemic Support staff.
“I take great pride in my role as an Ambassador, and find it comforting to know that my actions have made it easier for patients and families coming to the Health Centre,” says Joanne. “The exercise is an added bonus for me,” she jokes.
So how do we measure, measure a year?
In the musical, the answer is love.
In many ways, that’s true for volunteering too, since volunteers bring heart to Canada’s communities.
This year’s National Volunteer Week theme, Volunteering is Empathy in Action, highlights how this profoundly human connection is at the heart of healthier individuals and stronger communities.
These past 525,600 minutes may be tough to measure with some of the usual metrics, but if we measure this year in a volunteer’s love, we see the shared acts of kindness and compassion, the creativity and patience, and above all, the different ways volunteers continued to care for the NBRHC community.
And that’s something worth celebrating! As we mark another National Volunteer Week, we look back with gratitude and forward with hope.
Thank you volunteers, we appreciate you and everything you do!