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Volunteer Conference 2016

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2016 conference. It was a tremendous success.
Special thanks to Keynote Speaker Danny Graham, Mayor Mike Savage and Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas for speaking at the luncheon on Saturday.

Here is the poem that Rebecca Thomas delivered at the luncheon:

Cheers for the Volunteers

It could be scotching hot, ice cold, rain or snowy days,
And y’all still come out to play.
I’m must say that
You are the mainstays and pillars of passion.
Giving up your finite time, often unrationed.
Sometimes underappreciated.
But never overrated outdated, and definitely never to be placated as JUST a volunteer.
You are the sinew,
The connective tissue,
The glue,
The screws,
The nails,
And the clips.

You are the holder of hands,
The putter uppers of other peoples’ shit.
The first to show up and the last to leave.
You help little kids learn to read,
You escort women in need,
And you give those who are lacking a renewed sense of dignity.
The seeds of ambition.
An endless tradition of giving all of yourselves to what you believe.
You plead with the unreasonable,
Pick up trash to make our world a little more renewable.
You hand out water at races,
Venture into perceived unsavoury places,
Only to find the most welcoming of faces.
You challenge yourselves to gain new perspectives,
Find your patience taken advantage of and tested

You’ve been bested by exhaustion.
You’ve been picked on,
Yelled at,
Torn apart.
Then after a few strategic tears, you turned around and taped together the pieces of your broken heart.
Took a deep breath,
Pasted on the smile, ready once again to restart.
Now some of you are here out of social obligation,
Or perhaps as part of your release probation.
Regardless of why or how your fate was dealt,
The impact of your presence is truly felt.

Many of you, in fact most,
Will never be recognized.
You wishes and desire won’t ever be prioritized.
Your door-to-door knocking might sometimes be despised.
But your steadfast dedication implies wise eye that see a future built on hard work, unconditional love, and a lot of compromise.

So today,
I’m sorry to say that I just have a poem for you instead of a trophy.
They are only lyrics and rhyme. I can’t offer you a dime.
It’s absurd to think that my words can capture your belief in humanity.
But they might be able to bring about a sense of unity.
If I could, I would give you all trips to your versions of paradise, pre-paid visas, and dinners by candle light.
The joy it would bring me to give you a world that is cancer free and heal any wounds brought on by disease.
I wish I could take all your doubts, pain, and worries,
Write them down on a piece of paper, tuck it into the pocket of my jeans and forget about them.
So when I send them through the wash at the end of the day,
All that remains are little white flecks that can be brushed away.
But I can’t do any of that.
So instead, for this moment,
Right now and right here,
I would like to invite you all,
To give the world’s volunteers,
One hell of a cheer.

Friday, November 25 & Saturday, November 26, 2016
Ramada Plaza Park Place, Dartmouth
240 Brownlow Avenue, Dartmouth, NS B3B 1X6 CA

The volunteer conference is a celebration of the tremendous contributions of the volunteers in the region. Now in its 16th year, the Volunteer Conference gives residents an opportunity to participate in training, networking and learning that help them become more effective in their work and provide strong volunteer capacity in the region.

The 2016 conference included:
* A wide selection of interactive sessions
* Dynamic and experienced speakers
* Lunch and refreshments
* Networking opportunities
* Participant welcome packages
* Community showcase