Volunteerism has always been a critical aspect of civic culture, in Canada, which leads the world in the amount of GDP focussed on the non-profit sector. Volunteer Toronto is a clearinghouse for the sector, working with hundreds of partner organizations to connect potential volunteers with agencies. Capturing the stories of these volunteers, and the impact they have on the lives of individuals, communities, and environments in need, helps to deepen the culture of volunteerism.
Volunteer Toronto approached StoryCenter in 2011, to partner on a large scale, multi-year implementation of digital storytelling. Over a four year period, we led nine workshops with women and men from across the city, who shared their own stories of volunteerism. The workshops were a great way for participants in different organizations to learn about each other's work and services, and to build ties between the representatives and Volunteer Toronto staff.
The stories were collected on the Volunteers of Toronto website, and they can also be viewed on the innovative iPhone App "SharedTime," which we developed. The app shows the geographic distribution of the stories around Toronto, and provides information about, and links to, the local organizations served by volunteers. The same stories were made available through QR codes printed on posters located on the premises of participating organizations.