We can all volunteer

It was National Volunteer Week in Canada last week, but pardon me for being a little belated.

It was National Volunteer Week in Canada last week, but pardon me for being a little belated.
It is extremely difficult to recognize all the volunteer work that goes on in this community, but we, as well as Mayor Nancy Cooper, made some attempts to do so in the pages of last week’s publication. Organized volunteers are critical to the survival of many of the best things in our community. They organize bake sales and build trails. They comfort the grieving, knit caps for newborns, drive patients to medical visits. They coach kids in the nuances of sport, run music festivals and pick up litter on the side of highways. They deserve respect and admiration, every one.
There are literally hundreds of organizations that would love to have the services of people willing to devote their time on a regular or semi-regular basis.
But a few things this week made me think about another type of volunteer in our community – the spontaneous volunteer.
This came to my attention on a number of occasions recently when people voluntarily jumped in to help me out of a difficult situation. With three children under six, a full-time job and a husband who was working out of town at the time, it was more than a little difficult hear the dreaded words, “I’m sick” uttered by little mouths.
As some of you may remember from my column last week, this stress was compounded by the knowledge that the kids and I were possibly exposed to the hepatitis A virus after eating Pomeberry Blend frozen fruit. And so, there I was with three kids in tow waiting on Saturday morning for the medical clinic to open. There was already a lineup and as we waited outside the whining of a fussy, sick child soon turned to full blown tears.
So thank you to the kind 93-year-old man in a wheelchair who volunteered to let us go ahead of him in the lineup.
“Don’t worry, honey,” he said, when he saw the gratitude in my eyes. “I’m not so old I can’t remember what it’s like to have sick kids.”
This happened again when I took my frightened six-year-old to the lab for blood tests. We walked in to take number 49. The lab was currently serving number 17. A lab staffer came out warning people to expect a two- and-a half-hour wait.
As my child began to whimper about being scared of the needle, my thoughts were in a whirl from her distress to my newspaper deadline that day, and the need to be in the office sooner, rather than later — all the while knowing that this blood test would let us know if it was hepatitis A that was causing her symptoms.
Suddenly a woman stood up and volunteered to give us her number 37, thereby shaving more than an hour off our wait.  Once again, thank you for your unselfish act. It meant a whole lot to this stressed-out mom. 
You see, being a volunteer doesn’t have to be about joining an organized group. We can all volunteer to do a kind thing, and it can make a world of difference.