You do want all the things you love about the location of your new house, condominium or cottage to stay that way or get better, don't you?

Volunteers keep Canadian communities moving forward in spite of what governments and the economy throw at them. Generous contributions of time, creativity and resources from people who care about where and how everyone lives continue to move communities forward whatever the future holds. This makes volunteer community spirit an important sustainability criteria when choosing a new neighbourhood, condominium complex or community.

Consistent disappointment over government and corporate actions and inaction during the economic collapse and the pseudo-recovery has made it clear that solutions and innovation do not lie in their direction. "If it is to be, it's up to me" is a powerful personal mantra and it may become the people-mover that is needed to strengthen communities in a weak economy.

A chance meeting in a local coffee shop proved this to me. As I describe the following incident to others, more and more stories like this one emerged. There's a lot going on that does not rate recognition in the Canadian Walk of Fame, but that really matters. I'm impressed with the spreading determination that it is up to us.

"We have to show our children, teach our children, that everyone has to give something back, or it will come back and bite them in the butt," said a determined volunteer who was canvassing local businesses to gather donated prizes for a silent auction directed at raising money to improve the local grade school's playground. Parents are increasingly called on to raise funds to ensure their children have books, supplies, outings and safe environments, so sadly her objective was not new or unique. What struck me was that this parent's children had long since left the school and moved onto higher grades. This determined parent keeps pitching in because she believes in paying back the support her children received. That's sustainability -- persistent commitment in the face of continuing need.

The consideration and commitment of uncounted volunteers like this woman, plus family caregivers and helpful neighbours, overflows into each of our lives to create a street, a highrise or a neighbourhood worth living in. The signs of volunteer value are all around us, but, since they are not branded and promoted in convincing marketing language, they can be invisible or undervalued. Read More

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