Ottawa Community Housing’s Volunteer Engagement Program welcomes about 1,020 volunteers to 40 events per year, matching social-minded organizations with beautification projects in OCH neighbourhoods. Corporate volunteers paint walls and fences, build new benches, plant gardens and trees, make box lunches and more –bringing simple joy or improving the quality of life for OCH residents.
OCH’s proven formula provides a safe and supportive environment for volunteers, with timely communications, an efficient registration process, an opening welcome to connect volunteers to their project, and an orientation/safety briefing. Every detail is carefully considered. A testament to this, the annual retention rate for corporate volunteer partners is 85% and the volunteer time logged in 2017 totalled an incredible 4,590 hours.
The true impact of the program is immeasurable. It works to break down barriers between social housing communities and the broader City as corporate volunteers develop a deeper understanding of the successes and challenges more vulnerable citizens face.
By asking tenants what matters to them, they have become involved in the projects that improve their communities. They have opportunities to show leadership and develop new skills, and most of all their sense of ownership and pride of place grows.
OCH’s corporate volunteer partners recognize the many benefits they receive, like employee engagement, team building and skills development. And these heartfelt experiences, with impact and personal growth for both the giver and the receiver, put volunteerism in a very positive light.