Halifax Poet Rebecca Thomas Cheers for the Volunteers

Here is the poem that Rebecca Thomas delivered at the Halifax Volunteer Conference luncheon, her reading was the most powerful and emotional Thank you ever.  

Cheers for the Volunteers

It could be scorching hot, ice cold, rain or snowy days,
And y’all still come out to play.
I must say that
You are the mainstays and pillars of passion.
Giving up your finite time, often unrationed.
Sometimes underappreciated.
But never overrated, outdated, and definitely never to be placated as JUST a volunteer.
You are the sinew,
The connective tissue,
The glue,
The screws,
The nails,
And the clips.

You are the holder of hands,
The putter uppers of other peoples’ shit.
The first to show up and the last to leave.
You help little kids learn to read,
You escort women in need,
And you give those who are lacking a renewed sense of dignity.
The seeds of ambition.
An endless tradition of giving all of yourselves to what you believe.
You plead with the unreasonable,
Pick up trash to make our world a little more renewable.
You hand out water at races,
Venture into perceived unsavoury places,
Only to find the most welcoming of faces.
You challenge yourselves to gain new perspectives,
Find your patience taken advantage of and tested

You’ve been bested by exhaustion.
You’ve been picked on,
Yelled at,
Torn apart.
Then after a few strategic tears, you turned around and taped together the pieces of your broken heart.
Took a deep breath,
Pasted on the smile, ready once again to restart.
Now some of you are here out of social obligation,
Or perhaps as part of your release probation.
Regardless of why or how your fate was dealt,
The impact of your presence is truly felt.

Many of you, in fact most,
Will never be recognized.
You wishes and desires won’t ever be prioritized.
Your door-to-door knocking might sometimes be despised.
But your steadfast dedication implies wise eyes that see a future built on hard work, unconditional love, and a lot of compromise.

So today,
I’m sorry to say that I just have a poem for you instead of a trophy.
They are only lyrics and rhyme. I can’t offer you a dime.
It’s absurd to think that my words can capture your belief in humanity.
But they might be able to bring about a sense of unity.
If I could, I would give you all trips to your versions of paradise, pre-paid visas, and dinners by candle light.
The joy it would bring me to give you a world that is cancer free and heal any wounds brought on by disease.
I wish I could take all your doubts, pain, and worries,
Write them down on a piece of paper, tuck it into the pocket of my jeans and forget about them.
So when I send them through the wash at the end of the day,
All that remains are little white flecks that can be brushed away.
But I can’t do any of that.
So instead, for this moment,
Right now and right here,
I would like to invite you all,
To give the world’s volunteers,
One hell of a cheer.

Thank you everyone
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

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