‘Pride IN Volunteering’ got off to a fast start in March with 3 free workshops (Brampton, Caledon, then Mississauga) for those who volunteer in Peel region: ‘Be an Ally for LGBTQ2S+ Volunteers’.
Response to the 3 free workshops has been wonderfully positive, and the workshop leaders and speakers have come away with the solid belief that not only is the program worthwhile, but also clear progress was and is being made as the result of frank dialogues about how volunteers can welcome and include everyone of all backgrounds and orientations in volunteering experiences.
A mid-month, full day workshop, ‘Strategizing Pride in Volunteering’, was designed for volunteer engagement professionals and leadership in not-for-profit organizations. A video that Volunteer MBC released in February, 2017 is still freely available as a valuable introduction of the overall program.
Initial discomfort and hesitancy at the outset of the sessions were overcome by well-intentioned curiosity and by learning from those who are key players in PHAN. Their contributions were complemented by Annemarie Shrouder, a leading consultant in gender dynamics, who was able to clearly identify the issues and provide the means to understand them and, ultimately, turn ‘issues’ into non-issues, by promoting allyship. In her words, “An ally is someone who supports someone who is in a marginalized group, to which the ally doesn’t belong.”
Without exception, participants came away with lots to think about. More importantly, there was the realization that there’s lots to do, plus the need to act and set the early example for all volunteers.
The primary objective of ‘Pride IN Volunteering’ is to support not-for-profit organizations in the creation of gender inclusion and sensitivity in their volunteering ‘cultures’. This timely initiative involves creating awareness of diversity, then collaborative, reflective examination of beliefs (including stereotypes and misconceptions), values, and attitudes in group and training sessions.