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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Your guide to becoming an Agent of Change

By Melanie Winterle, special to the News

For many years, we’ve known that Hamilton has one of, if not the highest, volunteer rates in the country. But that wasn’t the most exciting thing to celebrate during this year’s National Volunteer Week.
Maybe you already knew that? Maybe you’ve observed something different going on in the community? Do you feel it? Maybe you’re even part of it.
I’m alluding to our Change Agent movement. Change Agents are catalysts for change. These are individuals who have a clear vision of what could be.
They build relationships on trust and they depend on these relationships being fortified by our differences. They are courageous and they ask tough questions. They allow their vision to be adopted by many and in doing so, allow it to evolve.
They are strong enough to step away when their role is complete, knowing that sustainability depends upon it. Success to a Change Agent is when the change is fully integrated into an organization, neighbourhood or broader community and it evolves according to those who share it.
So yes, National Volunteer Week is all about celebrating volunteers, but at Volunteer Hamilton we also recognize the impact of volunteers.
At this year’s Community Builders Breakfast, along with celebrating our Home Town Heroes and our Snow Angels, we also celebrated the social innovations of 44 nominees. Of the 44, Larry Pomerantz, founder of Earth Day Hamilton, was awarded the inaugural Community Builder Award.
The Community Builder Award is a partnership with Volunteer Hamilton and The Hamilton Spectator. It recognizes an individual, organization or group that has made an outstanding contribution to their local community, initiated an idea for social change, and made significant progress in building community.
As a member of the Volunteer Hamilton team, I’m in a prime seat to witness the evolution of volunteerism in Hamilton. I see volunteers, organizations, institutions, government and corporations in increasingly greater numbers, all eager to build and to transform community.
The response of the Volunteer Hamilton team is to provide all comers with assets for their missions.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become an “Agent of Change.” Here are some website with information you need in order to begin change in your community: volunteerhamilton.on.ca; abundantcommunity.com; vibrantcommunities.ca; peterblock.com; pocket-neighborhoods.net.
Melanie Winterle is the Executive Director of Volunteer Hamilton. Visit volunteerhamilton.on.ca to find a meaningful opportunity or drop into Volunteer Hamilton at 267 King St. East, Hamilton.

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