By Sue Andrews
I kind-of fell into volunteering for Sierra Club BC. Our Greenpeace local group offered to help organize the Defend our Climate march last May and I liked working with the Sierra group so much, I simply never stopped. Like many Sierra Club BC volunteers, I still volunteer with other organizations whose values align. We are all fighting the same fight.
Volunteering is not a one way transaction. When you volunteer for an organization you believe in, you receive so much in return. Volunteering with Sierra Club BC has meant a lot to me over the past year and taught me so much.
Taking action helps
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You cannot be informed about climate change without feeling loss, grief, despair and a whole lot of anger. Those are tough emotions to deal with. They can consume you and reduce you to a helpless, hopeless, miserable blob. I began to feel desperate as a grandparent, to do something to prevent the earth from becoming uninhabitable for my children. The surprise for me was that when I became part of a group that was organizing, protesting, postering, painting signs, and yelling our lungs out at marches – it helped! Instead of hopeless, I felt empowered. I was making a difference. And even more important – I wasn’t alone anymore. I didn’t have to save the world alone, I had company and I had help.
You learn how to organize
I must admit that at my first meeting of Sierra volunteers I thought, “How on earth are they going to organize a rally in six weeks?”
Watching and helping them get ready for the Defend Our Climate rally was my first lesson in humility and also – organizing. They blew it out of the park. 30 people on the organizing committee from multiple organizations, including Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, LeadNow, and the local Greenpeace group, all working together. These kids can organize!
The most valuable lesson I have learned through volunteering with Sierra Club BC is one that no one was trying to teach. This lesson was embodied in every decision, every request, and every action; it doesn’t matter who you are and what you have to offer, you are valued, respected, and appreciated. Your contribution is important and even the smallest task can make a difference. Nearly all of the volunteers are young enough to be my children but they make me feel young. I have seen them be just as encouraging and inclusive to anyone and everyone who joins to group, whether they are in their 20s or 70s, disabled or challenged in other ways.
You experience moments of supreme awesomeness
Anna and Soile were still singing at the back on the top of the double-decker bus on the way back from the ferry. Greg and Katherine from the Council of Canadians came up to join us and started singing along. Two girls in front of us starting singing too. Then half way down the bus, a guy bent over, unpacked his fiddle and came back to join the party and play too! Soon the whole top of the bus was singing along. We rocked all the way back to Victoria. Magical.
You meet some truly wonderful people
You may have detected a theme through this blog post; the best and most amazing thing about being a Sierra club volunteer, is the other volunteers and Sierra Club BC staff. Kind, hardworking, empathetic, capable, committed, courageous and inclusive. Awesome doesn’t begin to cover it.
What a gift they have been to me. I could not imagine life without them.
Get in touch with us if you want to join our amazing volunteer team!