National Volunteer Week is here. Since 1974 Canada have been celebrating volunteers for a week in April. About 12.7 volunteers nationwide contribute their time and talents to many worthy causes and projects. This year’s theme is: “The value of one. The power of many”. This past year there have been many opportunities out there to see how valuable each person’s contribution to a community can be. It’s as simple as volunteering to wear a mask; when every individual person contributes it creates a power that can even stop something as mighty as a pandemic.
This is not the first time that the theme of The Value of One, the Power of Many has been used. It first appeared in 2001, the International Year of Volunteers. Volunteer Canada says: “This theme is a nod to our past, a reflection of our present, and a wink to our future. It reflects the individual and collective efforts, we have seen during the pandemic, and it sets the tone for re-imagining the next 20 years as the value of one act and the power of many enables us to thrive together.”
This coming week from April 18 to 24 the staff at Westfield are taking a moment to reflect on our past and remember that from the beginning volunteers have been an important part of our history when a couple of teachers started a living history museum that we call Westfield. So many over the years have contributed their time and talents to allow the museum to flourish into a one of a kind experience. We have so many moments to share and enjoy remembering.
Yes, this past year has been a challenge. Normally a workforce of 250 plus volunteers brings history alive for visitors, but due to the pandemic that hasn’t been possible. We miss seeing our maintenance crew, our collections and restoration volunteers, our costume committee members, our gardeners, our historical interpreters, our youth volunteers and our family volunteers. However, thanks to some of our very dedicated volunteers, in between the lock-downs, we have had some fun with our Six-Spot tours and Fireflies and Fairy Dust evenings. The rest of the time our volunteers are keeping themselves safe and others safe by staying home.
We are excited for what the future is going to bring to Westfield and our volunteer program. As we embrace all that is Westfield including the conservation area we see new opportunities to involve volunteers in what we do here including working on our trails, fighting invasive species, continuing the care of 20,000 plus artifacts and re-imaging public program experiences. It’s as our program coordinator, Lisa Hunter says: “Behind every dust mask, costume, high viz vest, apron and pair of boots is a person who brings a lifetime of experience, knowledge, talent and passion to the Westfield community. Alone, each of these is remarkable and irreplaceable. In combination, they are the strong, dynamic, unstoppable force that powers the engine that is Westfield into the future.” Thank you to each individual volunteer for their contribution in the past, now through the pandemic, and into the future and the great things that will bring.