Every activity and program we do at the Red Cross and Red Crescent society is governed by a set of fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. In honour of National Volunteer week, we’re taking a closer look at the fundamental principle of voluntary service.

This principle is very basic, but it has a huge impact on the Red Cross and Red Crescent, because there is no way we could do the work that we do without our volunteers.

The principle of voluntary service means that the Red Cross and Red Crescent is a voluntary relief movement, and participating doesn’t come from the desire for gain.

Because we have a network of highly-trained volunteers across the country and around the world, we are able to respond quickly in times of disasters and emergencies. Local volunteers play a crucial role in these times, because they know their communities.

After Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, volunteer Micheline Lagrenade’s home was destroyed in Jeremie, Haiti. Micheline has been a Red Cross volunteer for the past 24 years, and despite being impacted by the hurricane she continued to volunteer to help others. She told us, “people ask me why I do this because I don’t get paid, they say I should stay home. I say no, I love the Red Cross, and the office won’t run if I’m not here.”

Without amazing volunteers like Micheline, it would be very difficult for Red Cross programs and activities to continue.

Across Canada, we have volunteers who use their skills and knowledge to help us in many ways, from drivers to receptionists, to people who help sort food for our mobile food bank, to those who help respond to disasters, and more.  

Volunteers can be called upon any time of day to help when it's needed. Canadian Red Cross volunteer Joy Geizer told us, “It’s not always easy to climb out of a warm bed at three in the morning, but then I think of the people who ran frItom theirs leaving everything behind that’s dear to them.”  

It's pretty clear just how imporant our volunteers are, and therefore why the principle of voluntary service is so important to the Red Cross Red Crescent.

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, learn more about how you can join.