One of Norm Carruthers’ favourite quotes is by actress/comedian Lily Tomlin.
“She has this saying that goes: ‘Somebody should do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.’ The contributions in our community create an environment in which we live, work and play.”
Carruthers has been giving back to communities in which he has lived in for years, and says it was an idea which was ingrained in him at an early age.
“Whether it comes from Boy Scouts or my family, I’ve been so blessed in my life and growing up that I really want to give back. The idea of legacy struck me from an early age.”
The president of the Comox Valley Community Foundation explains the idea to create something for ‘the now’ as well as something that lasts generations has always had a strong appeal to the now-retired senior government administrator.
Carruthers joined the CVCF in 2013.
Previous to that he was heavily involved with the Osprey Community Foundation in Nelson, as well as serving on the boards of the Nelson Museum, Art Gallery and Archives Society and the Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership (a non-profit society researching and supporting the volunteer sector).
He is also on the board of North Island College’s Elder College.
“(The variety of boards) speaks to my large range of values. Elder College is a wonderful concept – I love lifelong learning and I want to do anything I can to help facilitate that; we benefit from the actions of so many others.”
For those who are interested or thinking of volunteering for a board or an organization, Carruthers says volunteering can truly take moments or decades – and it’s up to the individual to decide their time commitment.
“There’s lots of volunteer opportunities that are almost spur-of-the-moment. There’s no second thought when a neighbour needs help and you bring over some food. There’s all sorts of volunteers opportunities that are just moments.”
There are also more structured volunteer opportunities, he adds, such as projects, or more of a long-term commitment to a board. In addition to skills gained and shared, Carruthers says sometimes it’s just the simple need for more joy in our lives that makes volunteering so rewarding.
“Not only does (volunteering) give more joy in our lives, but joy in others as well, just by giving a few moments of our time.”
While he estimates he spends about 60-plus hours a month contributing to boards and volunteering, Carruthers calls it, “part of my life. It’s not a deliberate act and I really enjoy doing it. I now have the time to put hours in and it makes me more vibrant to contribute – I find joy.”
His advice when considering contributing to a board for finding an outlet for volunteer is to think about what you like doing, and finding a fit that works.
“Choose what you want to do, and the timing and how much you want to be involved. Make sure you’re allowing yourself some time to learn for several months to get a feel of it. Take your time to be a doer before jumping into be a board member.”
He adds a simple rule of thumb is to find ways of making volunteering fun.
“Apply the same rules to volunteering as you would to your own life.”