Province launches new volunteer tool and Northern Lights volunteer recognition

Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Leela Sharon Aheer speaks during Wednesday’s press briefing.

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta launched a new tool Wednesday to connect Albertans with volunteer opportunities during the current COVID-19 crisis, as well as created the Northern Lights program to recognize Albertans who volunteer to support their community.

Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday during the daily COVID-19 update that while physical distancing and gathering restrictions are in place, there is still a need for healthy volunteers to help those in need.

The government says the online Alberta Cares Connector captures the Alberta spirit of supporting the vulnerable by offering assistance, skills and time to those who most need it.

“Volunteerism is the Alberta way. I continue to be inspired by many acts of Albertan generosity and compassion. From the Sikh community providing meals for truckers keeping our supply lines open, to a Calgary woman in her time of mourning sewing masks for her community, to kids leaving care packages on their elderly neighbours’ doorsteps – the examples of generosity and selflessness are endless,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “The Alberta Cares Connector will build off this community solidarity and ensure that those who can help will make the biggest impact during this time when support is acutely needed. The Northern Lights program keeps a platform commitment to spotlight those who personify the Alberta spirit by giving back to our community through volunteerism.”

Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Leela Sharon Aheer said Albertans are proud to have the highest volunteer rates across Canada, more than 26,400 non-profit organizations and more than 1.6 million Albertans providing more than 262 million volunteer hours. Volunteer contributions are $5.6 billion annually.

“During this unprecedented crisis, Albertans understand that the need for volunteerism and social support is urgent. And, once again, they have demonstrated their commitment to their neighbours and communities through selfless acts of service,” said Aheer. “The Alberta Cares Connecter will assist Albertans who want to help at this time by connecting them with local volunteer opportunities to help those most in need.”

The government said the new tool is a one-stop-shop for those looking for service opportunities, ensuring those organizations and programs are able to continue to provide support to those in need.

Albertans are encouraged to volunteer at food banks, sew masks or scrub bags for front-line health-care workers, providing meals for essential service workers, pick up groceries for those unable to leave their homes, or packing and delivering essential needs for vulnerable Albertans.

People can also donate blood, donating items to shelters in need, and reach out to seniors through positive messages or phone calls.

New Northern Lights Volunteer Recognition Program

The government is also launching the Alberta Northern Lights Volunteer Awards to honour Albertans who are helping out. Honourees will be nominated by fellow Albertans and selected for profiling on the program’s website and through social media.

There are no requirements for hours of service, and any individual or group who helps out in their community is eligible for an award. The nomination submission requests a brief story about the nominee’s contribution. Nominations will be accepted online on an ongoing basis.

“Volunteers are the heart of non-profits and right now we need Albertans to give their time and talents to community organizations,” said Jeremy Nixon, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Community and Social Services. “Any act of volunteerism, done safely, will make a huge difference. That’s why the Government of Alberta is making a point of recognizing those individuals, businesses and organizations who have answered the call in this time of need. Let’s share the uplifting and inspirational stories of special volunteers who are brightening the lives of others and their communities during this difficult time by nominating them for an Alberta Northern Lights Volunteer Award. ”

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