It is 2016 National Volunteer Week April 11-15, so thank you to the amazing people who have made us part of their families over the past 20 years.
Two such volunteers are Kathy and Peter Kawalilak. Peter is semi-retired, a former police officer now working for the 911 call centre. Kathy is a teacher about to retire her full time position and go on the substitute list.
They live in Sherwood Park in a house they share with one adult son, their 12 year old ‘keeper dog’ and every year for the past nine, a Dogs with Wings foster puppy. Read more.
A Reason to Celebrate
According to Statistics Canada 2010 survey, 55% of Albertans volunteer and each volunteer contributes an average of 140 hours per year. Dogs with Wings volunteers are 3 times more dedicated, and that doesn’t even count what else they do in their communities!
In 2015, Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society received over 121,000 hours of service from 297 volunteers and their families.
the equivalent of 62 full time positions
valued at $1.8 million at $15 per hour
an average of 54 day’s work per person
It Takes a Village
There are so many ways volunteers help out at Dogs with Wings. Every day, year round, hundreds of people are working at raising dogs and money to ensure assistance dogs are being placed with clients whose quality of life depends on them and their training.
Our in-home foster programs are by far the largest volunteer programs. Adult dog foster homes, puppy foster homes, whelping homes and boarding homes require tens of thousands of dedicated hours each year. Our puppy and boarding programs operate in Grande Prairie, Edmonton and Calgary. The adult foster program and our whelping homes center on our training facility in Edmonton.
We also have many volunteers who work hands-on with the dogs at our training facility or out in public. Training Assistants help reinforce the skills dogs need for their assistance roles. Training assistants can be individuals or families who take the dogs to shopping malls, grocery stores, festivals or bus rides. They may also be classrooms of children or family groups who help train dogs that will be working with children. Dogs with Wings also has kennel assistants who come in every day to make sure that all the adult dogs are taken outside to be relieved and to run around in our off leash area for exercise.
Some of our very important volunteer roles don’t involve our dogs directly. Every year it takes a very dedicated committee of people to plan and carry out our events. Graduation, and especially our Gala, take many hours of planning and lots of hands on deck to be successful. There are several other events and activities taking place all year when people are always happy to step up and lend a hand. Groups from companies might help by doing a “deep clean” of our training facility, individuals lend their muscle to haul donated furniture, and DWW ambassadors visit schools and other community groups to talk about assistance dogs and our organization.
Dogs with Wings is very lucky to count people all over the province as volunteers who help raise money to support the work we do. These volunteers may be students who take up a collection at school, individuals who ask for donations instead of birthday presents or people or groups who plan a fundraising event in their community.
There is one core group of volunteers whose leadership guides the organization to grow and succeed. Dogs with Wings Board of Directors are special individuals who have taken up the responsibility to ensure DWW remains a viable, productive and ethical operation fulfilling a valid need in society.
‘Time, treasure or talent’ is a phase used to describe the types of support given to charities. At Dogs with Wings, there is no distinguishing between our volunteers, all give time, treasure and talent.
Leverage your Passion
Employers across Alberta have come up with several ways to keep their staff happy, active and involved in their communities. One of these is to support causes that their employees hold dear. These programs might be matching gifts for the donations their employees make, grants to charities where their employees volunteer, or even gifts to recognize volunteer contributions of retired employees.
Dogs with Wings receives many financial gifts from businesses every year that are “volunteer driven”. Donors become volunteers by asking their employers to match their financial gifts. Volunteers can become fundraisers by asking for grants to DWW based on a minimum number of hours they have volunteered or on length of service to DWW.
The only way DWW can receive this support is if donors and volunteers ask their employers. We truly appreciate our volunteers who have asked their employers about their matching gift or employee volunteer grant program. They have gone the extra mile and leveraged their passion for Dogs with Wings.
Employment and Social Development Canada has provided Dogs with Wings a grant of $23,000 through the New Horizons for Seniors Program. Starting in April, DWW will be developing and running programs focused on recruiting, training and mentoring volunteers.
Although the definition of “senior” is age 55 and up, the grant allows for a much broader range. The program will include promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations, engaging seniors through the mentoring of other generations, and supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors.
Dogs with Wings will call on our current “senior” volunteers for ideas and help to make the most of this opportunity to build and grow our volunteer program foundation and numbers. Watch for more information about the New Horizons project coming soon.