Goodwill volunteers bring sunshine into the dark - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Goodwill volunteers bring sunshine into the dark

June 8, 2021


Each of us can make a bigger difference than we think.

It’s sometimes easy to think that we are powerless to make a difference when the world around us is looking dark. Thankfully, there are some one-of-a-kind volunteers who are reminding us how to bring sunshine into our region.

Goodwill Industries of Alberta connects Albertans living with disabilities to volunteer opportunities, so they can contribute to and connect with their community. Participants volunteered at various non-profits in the Edmonton area — until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

COVID pandemic halts volunteer opportunities

“I want to help my neighbours,” proclaimed Doug, who volunteers at Goodwill. “It is good to volunteer with friends. Everyone is my favourite!”

However, to ensure the health and safety of these important volunteers, many Edmonton non-profits had to suspend or significantly scale back in-person volunteer opportunities..

“We lost everything when COVID hit. All the volunteer opportunities were gone,” shared Kari Willis, Goodwill’s Community Employment Navigator.

“Many used to volunteer five days a week and then were suddenly stuck at home.”

Then staff found out about United Way’s Volunteer at Home DIY kits. United Way launched the new volunteer opportunity to harness the power of caring community members to support those who are struggling during the pandemic.

“Goodwill was really excited about this new opportunity to join forces with United Way. The whole team sprang into action to support it,” recalled Brett Dermott, Job Development Specialist with Goodwill.

“I was in tears when we couldn’t volunteer. Now I have lots of fun again making the kits with friends.”

– Tyler

“My favourite thing about volunteering is helping people who don’t have homes.”

– Amanda

“I wanted to volunteer to help because of the pandemic. I hope everyone living in poverty gets help.”

– Kamil

Goodwill launches hub to build United Way DIY kits

Leadership at Goodwill provided funding to purchase DIY kit supplies. They also transformed an underutilized space into a brand-new volunteer hub where participants could assemble kits and be socially distanced, working two meters apart.

Now, dozens of volunteers with Goodwill are assembling different types of kits for those in need — from pencil cases for students to activity kits for isolated seniors. Together, they have put in over 1,100 volunteer hours so far.

Doug has especially enjoyed making kits.

“I love to do it. I think it will make people happy,” he reflected.

Doug, we hope you never stop bringing your sunshine to those who need it!