Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Volunteer…. Guest Blog by Mark Kolke

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A friend signed me up for his blog. I read, and read some more, every day for weeks. One day, I commented. He responded and thus began a friendship that has spanned hundreds of blogs and thousands and thousands of words.

He is a writer, a philosopher, a wit and a human being of great heart.

Today, Mark Kolke, who has written every day for the past nine years at Mark is Musing, shares his philsophy and outlook on the importance of volunteering. An avid volunteer, Mark continues to inspire people every day with his insight, self-disclosures and openness on the journey of his lifetime.

Thank you Mark for giving of yourself so generously and effortlessly. Thank you for your friendship. You make a difference in my life, and the world.


Volunteer . . . . … a little bit of time.

guest blog by Mark Kolke

I’ve been a volunteer in a variety of ways for more than 30 years. In Edmonton, at first it was sports things, school and community things – mostly ‘kid things’ as my children were growing up.  Sure, I would donate money to causes, buy raffle tickets and attend fundraising events – but actual ‘roll up your sleeves’ volunteering, I was on the sidelines. Looking back that was fine, but I needed a cause to stir me to action.

A fine old gentleman named Bill Pettigrew came by my office one day, for coffee and – so I thought – to chinwag about a recent campaign we’d worked on, about working with Bill and his tireless wife Edith who had been involved in political campaigns since the 1930s when Bill had worked for R.B. Bennett (yes, the former Prime Minister) in his Calgary campaigns.  It turned out the Bill wanted to recruit me to sit on a volunteer board for a social services organization – one that provided services to persons with developmental disabilities.  With some reluctance (a field I knew nothing about), I was convinced by Bill-the-flatterer that the board needed business skills and talents I might bring to the table.  I joined that board …. spent 6 years there, 2 as chair and I was hooked!  Not just hooked on the cause which has led to many adventures in advocacy and service work for persons with disabilities.  But hooked on Volunteering.

People I met led me to other stints, other things. Driving Meals on Wheels on Christmas Day when all the regular drivers were enjoying a well deserved day off. The range, over many years has been awesome. I’ve met incredible staff, fellow volunteers and community members from all walks of life.  I’ve made some business connections, personal connections and unforgettable characters …. all through volunteering.

I don’t intend to recite my involvements or the many wonderful organizations I’ve been involved in, because that isn’t the point of this piece and  I don’t want to leave anyone or any organization out … I’ve yet to be involved in one I didn’t like.

The point of volunteering is pretty simple – helping somebody or some organization in need of help.  It is likely to be more complex than stuffing envelopes, sweeping a floor, or painting a fence – all worthy work.

In Calgary we have a tradition of community involvement, from grunt labour to extensive philanthropy – but in between, thousands of ordinary people give a few hours a week, or a month, or a year to help someone out.  My view is, give what you can, when you can and you will never feel shortchanged and you will never find the recipients to be ungrateful.

In my role as a member of the Speaker’s Bureau at Volunteer Calgary, I visit groups to explain volunteering opportunities and educate people about the resources of Volunteer Calgary – an umbrella volunteer recruiting organization representing over 400 Calgary organizations and agencies.

Give a little or give a lot – the measurement will be in hours. The value, the dividend, will be paid back with a sense of purpose, self-worth and value that cannot be purchased in any store, qualities and fulfillment than never has an expiry date.

If you’ve volunteered a little or a lot, congratulations. If you haven’t then consider whether it is time to start.  Like any long term solid investment, sometimes it is best to start small and spread your investment around.

The biggest surprise most first time volunteers find is how easy it is to help.  Of course they will be asked to help again, help some more, help with something else . . . because that is how volunteering works.

It works very well indeed.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be speaking for an hour to a small group of seniors who are suffering from depression and anxiety. I’ll spend an hour with them, reminding them of their own past volunteer experiences and encouraging them to give some more, to give again of their richest resource … a little bit of time.

Click this link to browse current Volunteer Opportunities


Thank you Mark for inspiring all of us to give a little, give a lot but whatever we do…. volunteer!   To catch up on Mark’s blog — click HERE.


Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

One thought on “Volunteer…. Guest Blog by Mark Kolke

  1. OH! I love reading stories about people who became ‘hooked’ on volunteering! Volunteering was a big part of my identity as a child so it was a natural thing for me to do as an adult.

    It’s nice to meet you, Mark! I look forward to browsing your site!



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