Dialogue groups provide an opportunity for participants to engage with members of the local community on specific issues of interest. Community members with specific expertise in the evening’s topic are invited to co-facilitate the discussion. This evening, we will be discussing "Community in Crisis? Engaging and Retaining Volunteers in Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community"
Over the past few years, the number and type of organizations and businesses providing support for Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community have seen some significant changes, in an attempt to respond to the needs of a growing and diversifying community. These needs are themselves diverse, ranging from supporting community health & wellness (both physical and mental), advocacy, social events, dating & relationships – and the list keeps growing.
Despite the ever growing need for community support, many have commented that the base of volunteers has not kept pace. When long-term volunteers and owners of businesses/organizations supporting our community decide to retire, far too often, the services they provided cease. As community demands increase, existing services and organizations may struggle to keep up with their existing volunteer base, and often lose capacity to maintain communications with other organizations and the community-at-large. In the end, there is growing concern as to what will happen when more volunteers retire, either voluntarily, or due to burn out. What additional services will we lose? Are there steps that can be taken to build our collective capacity for community building and stave off this potential community crisis?
This month, we will be focusing on identifying best practices for volunteer recruitment and retention, opportunities for individuals to get involved in our community, and how we can all work together to create as sustainable network of volunteers to maintain the valuable services that our community needs. The discussion will be jointly facilitated by Colin Boucher and Jeremy Steffler.
About the Guest Facilitators
Colin Boucher is the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Coordinator for the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA). His work includes participation in various forms of outreach, education, community development and counselling within Waterloo Region. His role has the aim of increasing knowledge and decreasing new HIV infections among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. He holds a communication degree from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Jeremy Steffler has been an active volunteer within Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community for over 15 years, most recently as Chair of the Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition, Co-Chair of the Rainbow Community Council, and of course, Facilitator of the Wednesday Night Discussion Group. Jeremy has been recognized for his leadership in supporting diversity and equity initiatives in Waterloo Region, as recipient of The Record’s 2013 Top 40 Under 40 and the University of Waterloo Faculty Association Status of Women and Equity Committee’s 2014 Equity & Inclusivity Award.