The Value of One, the Power of Many

April 18 to 24 is National Volunteer Week in Guelph!

This year’s theme is ‘The Value of One, the Power of Many’—a nod to our past, a reflection of our present, and a wink to our future.

The theme reflects the individual and collective efforts that we have seen during the COVID-19 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.

At the City, we recognize the value of caring and compassion that each of our volunteers has shown another, and we recognize the power of people, organizations, and sectors working together for the betterment of our community.

Read testimonials from Indigo Kim, Simone Racine, Paul Breadner and Wendy Dabb, who choose to volunteer their time with City programs, to learn how they are making a difference in our community and what volunteering means to them.

During COVID-19, we encourage you to reach out to PIN for community volunteer opportunities.

Indigo Kim, volunteer, Guelph Youth Council

I have been sitting on the Guelph Youth Council (GYC) since November 2017. I joined as a nervous and inexperienced student wanting to engage with my community and meet other like-minded youth. Little did I know, years later, I would see myself—and the council—reach new heights.

Through my time at GYC, I have had the opportunity to provide a youth perspective on various projects such as the Transportation Master Plan, plans for the new Guelph Public Library, and a burgeoning youth hub. I feel as though the work is valuable and has real impacts on my community. And through projects such as the Music Works Stage Works and [email protected], I took away teamwork and leadership lessons that I would later apply to projects of my own.

Now, as a more confident youth leader, I can see how my position on the council has helped me flourish in other, individually-led projects at school and beyond. Not only did volunteering allow me to make an impact on my city and my peers, but it also gave me access to a safe, productive, welcoming community. The lessons I learned and the volunteer experience I gained were, in a word, indispensable.

Simone Racine, volunteer, Guelph Youth Council

I have been a part of Guelph Youth Council for five years and it has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I have benefited in so many ways. From receiving my high school community hours many times over to communicating in a professional setting with people my age, I grew as an individual and volunteer.

I started attending the weekly meetings with the intention of becoming more involved in my community and getting my volunteer hours. However, as time went on, I began to feel invested in the success of this council and the change we enacted. I took on more responsibility and I am now a co-coordinator of social media for the Guelph Youth Council.

I learned to take opportunities as they come to you and to believe in my capability and the power of my voice. My opinions have been appreciated and respected and I feel as though I have been able to make a difference within my community. This is all thanks to volunteering with Guelph Youth Council.

Paul Breadner, volunteer, Locomotive Restoration Committee

I joined the City of Guelph Locomotive Restoration Committee not long after the committee was formed in 2002.

Our initial task was to determine the scope of the restoration, coordinate with City staff, inform the public of our progress, and fundraise to help offset the costs of the project. Once we entered the practical phase of the restoration, there was more coordination of the tasking for contractors within the project and a lot more hands-on work done by committee members and the technical volunteers.

It was quite evident early on that all the staff at Guelph Museums were very supportive of the 6167 Restoration Project, and it made sense that Locomotive 6167 would eventually become the Museums’ second largest artifact after McCrae House!

When the restoration was completed, the committee presented Locomotive 6167 to Guelph Museums through a ceremony on John Galt Day in August 2014 where I presented Mayor Karen Farbridge with ‘the keys’ if you will to 6167.

During the restoration, the first move of 6167, then the completion of the restoration, it was a natural extension of what we had been doing as custodians of 6167 for most of the committee members and technical volunteers to join the Guelph Museums volunteer group.

We had worked so closely with City management and staff, and in particular all the folks at Guelph Museums sharing the passion to preserve 6167 for the citizens of Guelph.

It has been my privilege to be a Guelph Museums volunteer since the restoration was completed in 2014, and I have always felt that my efforts have been completely supported and that our collective goals are achieved by working as a strong team.

This past November, Guelph Museums, Culture and Recreation, Engineering, Metrolinx/GO, and the move contractors worked together to achieve the successful goal of safely moving 6167 to the new home at John Galt Park.

Matty, my four-year-old grandson, loves anything to do with 6167 and it is a wonderful feeling knowing that 6167 is now in such a wonderful and more prominent location for residents of Guelph and visitors alike to see and reflect on what a strong influence the history of rail service has had in the development of southern Ontario.

Our volunteer team will continue to support ongoing programs and the maintenance needs of Locomotive 6167.

Wendy Dabb, volunteer, George Oxnard Journal Project

The Guelph Civic Museum holds 31 personal journals kept by George Oxnard. George was a Grand Trunk Railway employee as well as an avid journal keeper, having written 31 journals between 1856 and 1920. He wrote in his journals almost every day, and these journals, which are a window into his life and thoughts, are an absolute treasure trove of knowledge for researchers and historians trying to understand life in Guelph at the turn of the century.

Wendy Dabb is a designated peer-reviewer and researcher for the George Oxnard Journal Project, and works with a dedicated team of 12 volunteers, students and City staff who are transcribing George’s messy handwriting into legible, researchable text.

She says, “I have been involved in the project for almost three years and enjoy every minute of it. Transcribing can be very challenging, especially if you have difficulty with cursive writing, but as I have taken penmanship, and I am a senior it wasn’t as difficult as it can be for some. One benefit of being older! Editing is an area I very much enjoy, especially the researching portion. I was also curious about George’s family and have researched and provided information on that as well. Because I could relate visually, as George’s rented house ‘Yankee Cottage’ and the house of his daughter Maud are still standing, the people in his journals become ‘alive’.”

Wendy’s dedicated work has expanded on George’s brief daily snapshots into a detailed and personal look at the history of Guelph. There are now only 12 journals left to transcribe and research! Next steps will be to prepare the transcriptions for public access. Wendy continues to contribute to this project from the safety of her home during the COVID-19 pandemic and says, “I have slowed myself down so I can continue to enjoy the work until I am back at ‘my happy place’ at the Guelph Civic Museum.”