Above: FCSS Community Program Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
National Volunteer Week is April 23 to 29 this year, but the Annual Volunteer Dinner and Awards Night will not be held this year as the Town of Morinville is taking a new approach to recognizing the community’s volunteers.
FCSS Community Program Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka said the Town has never not wanted the volunteer event to continue; it is just the Town is not going to use residents’ money to continue to reach only 250 people when almost half of those that volunteer do not or are unable to attend. Dziwenka said last year’s budget for volunteer appreciation was $7000.
“These meals need to be a thing of the past,” she said. “We’ve decided in the past that a meal and entertainment is what volunteers want. What I have learned by talking to some of the groups is they are unique and individual as the organizations that are here themselves. Some never go to the supper. Also, some groups that support the event every year are only allowed to bring eight of their members to the event. With the $150 they can use it to thank all of their members.”
Dziwenka is hoping to make the switchover to the Town’s participation in Volunteer Week clear and understandable
“We are no longer hands-on with the event,” she said. “We are doing workshops which will enable the volunteers who are within an organization to access them for free.”
Volunteer Week Plans underway
The Town wants to make National Volunteer Week a memorable event that includes something for all. The first year for changes will have more emphasis on volunteers and the organizations.
A Volunteer Walk of Fame will be on display during Volunteer Week in Morinville Community Cultural Centre’s foyer. There will also be free educational workshops volunteers can attend and $150 grants for community groups.
Volunteer Walk of Fame is requesting photos
Until the end of March, organizations are encouraged to submit photos reflecting some of the activities that they do. The photos should include the organization name and be submitted to Melonie Dziwenka at firstname.lastname@example.org. The display will provide awareness of the various organizations and the excellent work they do in the community.
The Town has booked Government of Alberta Community Development Officer Heather Nickel to conduct two workshops open for registration at the beginning of April. The free workshops are geared towards adults and are scheduled to be held April 24 and 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each has the capacity for 80 people per session.
The Apr. 24 topic is When People and Expectations Collide and is designed to help with the motivation of volunteers. The Apr. 27 topic is Show Me the Money. It will cover how to apply for grants, proposals, and other monetary matters.
Another workshop may be held at a later date.
Volunteer $150 Grant
Dziwenka said the Town would be giving out $150 grants. The $150 grant will give her a barometer of how many apply and funding amount application. “This is the first time doing this and needs a barometer. We are actually using the model that Gibbons has used for two years now, and they were willing to share that with us. They do these grants.”
“We are giving out Volunteer grant funds to organizations so that they can turn that specifically towards awards for their volunteers,” she said. “We are reaching more people by this.”
Dwizenka said some people have said they will use that $150 Volunteer grant for mileage, some to send their volunteers to Vitalize, the Provincial Voluntary Sector Conference.
The $150 in grant funds can be used to help pay for organization shirts, uniforms, guest speakers or a pizza dinner.
The grant is available to those volunteer organizations who want to apply. It will be made available at the beginning of April and groups have until the end of December 2017 to use the funds.
Dziwenka pointed out the $150 grants do not replace the Town’s Community Grant program a matching-grant that offers grants to not-for-profit community groups, organizations, and associations. The Community Grant’s next intake deadlines are May 31 and September 30.