The Haliburton Highlands Volunteer Fair was a success, according to organizer Brigette Gebauer.

“Everybody was quite pleased,” she said. “We had a lot more than last year who were interested in volunteering, which is great.”

With more than 30 organizations represented at the fair, there was a lot to choose from, and many choices to make. Sheila Kitchen is retired and wanted to find something to fill some days. “It is a bit overwhelming, so many organizations looking for volunteers in such a small community,” she said.

The target group that Gebauer was hoping to engage was exactly who came out. “Recent retirees and newcomers to the area was the cohort we were looking to target, and that was the majority that came out.”

There were other demographics represented in the attendees, such as Alyssa Gordon. “I am a stay-at-home mom with three boys, and I told my husband that I needed to find something to get me out of the house every once in a while, which is why I came to this event,” she said. She, too, was surprised at the number of organizations and the variety of choice.

Vanessa Koot, from Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the organization is always looking for volunteers/mentors. “We have a community-based program and a school-based program that run about an hour a week.” She said it is all about building dependable relationships with young people. “We work with grades 4 – 8 and it does make a difference in their academics, their social skills and helps to lower stress they may be feeling either from home or school or other factors.”

A new group, just formed last year, were looking for volunteers interested in all things apple. Luba Cargill and Vicki Sisson from the Apple Tree Identification Project (ATIP) explained that it was all about identifying, preserving, and promoting apple trees and the significance of them in Haliburton County.

“We started last year by identifying 10 locations of beautiful old orchards and apple trees and it has grown to 177 now,” said Cargill. “We have apple blossom tours throughout the County, and we are presenting our first symposium later this month.” They also have a variety of other activities they are involved with such as working with arborists and master gardeners to not only take care of the existing tress but to plant new ones so locally grown produce is available.

Haliburton Highlands Land Trust representative, Christel Furniss, said they were looking for volunteer land monitors to walk the trails and report condition, etc., in order to maintain the upkeep. “We have had good interest so far,” said Furniss. “People can volunteer for a variety of different things, like fundraising, education committees.”

Many of the people who attended the fair were looking to get more involved in their community and agreed that volunteering is a good way to do just that. “It is a great way to help,” said Gayle Clements, who already volunteers with SIRCH Community Services in Haliburton. “So many things depend on volunteers to keep running.”