I know volunteering may not come first to mind when discussing employment or that you may very well feel too busy to do anything more. Winter in my household feels like a busy time of year. One side is working in the world of snow from dawn to dusk, taking his schedule from nature (and skiers). For me, life feels just as busy with a bustling office full of people getting back into work, and some extra chores on my plate until the spring thaw brings equilibrium back to our household.

Discussing volunteering and work in the same breath could even feel wrong. Isn’t the purpose of a job to get paid and volunteering to pay back? Sure, both hold some truth, but with many charities and non-profits increasingly relying on a fewer number of volunteers to do the same if not more, maybe we need to rethink why people volunteer. Maybe we aren’t too busy.

Volunteer to meet people you never would have met. Volunteering offers an opportunity to connect with others. The isolation of winter (or unemployment) can melt away. Meeting new people means that you are simultaneously developing your support system and giving towards another’s. You are forming contacts and friendships that are there when we all need a hand. You are building your reputation and network. Why have a network? To stay connected to the latest opportunities and information.

Volunteer to gain perspective. Working alongside others and getting out of your own “world” can be refreshing and illuminating. Perspective has an amazing ability to show you things you previously could not see or thought possible. Trying new things and new ways of doing things in a volunteer environment is generally a risk-free way to explore your options.

Volunteer to learn. Building your skills and developing work experience is probably what first came to mind at the start of this article. Looking for work? Employers do look positively on volunteer work and consider it relevant experience. Have a job? Life-long learning contributes to not only greater job satisfaction but development and growth. If you don’t have the opportunity at work to utilize your “creative” skills, then find an opportunity through volunteering. Have a hole in your resumé? Fill it through volunteering.

Volunteer to have fun and feel better. Whether you are looking for work or simply busy with work, over time the chores of the everyday can be tiring. We can get into patterns that wear us down rather than pump us up. It may seem illogical, but the act of giving toward another has a positive impact on our wellbeing.

Next month is host to Canada’s National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize, thank and celebrate those who make a difference. Maybe volunteering can work for you.

Resident Feature

Name: Nels Amundsen
Business: Amundsen Electric – Electrical Contracting

What was your first job in the Valley? Technically my first job in the Valley was peeling logs for my dad when he was building our home. I was twelve years old. My first job on payroll was snowmaking at the ski hill back when it was called Fernie Snow Valley.

Why is Fernie a great place to work? It is a luxury to be able to live and work in an town where you can participate in so many world class outdoor activities within ten minutes of your door step. Not having to plan a long drive to the mountains after a week of work is a great part of our Fernie lifestyle.

What is it about your job that you love? I enjoy the interaction with the Elk Valley residents, and developing good relationships with customers. I also enjoy working with my crew, we make a good team. The great thing about electrical is the scope of work is diverse, so there is rarely a time that it gets dull or boring. Every job is different and so are the needs of our clients.

If you could relay one piece of advice to someone working toward their "dream" job, what would that be? If you put energy into something and keep an open mind, anything is possible.