“You need to have the passion within yourself before you can share it with someone else and get them involved,” says Jim Williams, Manitoba’s nominee for DUC’s national Volunteer of the Year.
Williams’ passion has rubbed off on his own family. His oldest son, Mike, is a biologist who has worked for DUC for more than 25 years. He is currently works as head of restoration and client services out of Barrie, Ont. Williams’ other son, Mark, worked as a fundraising manager in Manitoba for several years.
“My family has always had a connection with the outdoors. I taught my sons how to camp – in tents, not trailers – and hunt,” says Williams. “My wife comes from a farming family and loves to spend time outdoors.”
When it comes to volunteering, Williams believes it’s important to get your family involved so it becomes a mutual passion and a fun shared experience.
“This appreciation for the outdoors has been handed down to my grandkids – they love snowshoeing and cross-country skiing,” says Williams. “My granddaughter loves going with my son Mike to check on nest boxes.”
Williams got involved with DUC in the early eighties with the Ste. Agathe committee after he attended a couple fundraising dinners. At one time Williams chaired the Ste. Agathe committee, but passed on the role when he moved back to the city. Williams likes to be the go-to guy, and he gets involved anyway he can. He emcees the Ste. Agathe event and often helps set up at other dinners. He is also involved with the Steinbach committee and the Boys Night Out committee in Winnipeg.
“My wife, Mary, and I usually go to about six or seven dinners every year – we do the tour,” says Williams. “We like to go to the Beausejour one. It only started a few years ago and they’re doing really well and we like to support them. I know some of those guys on that committee.”
Williams feels that the best part about being a DUC volunteer is the opportunity to educate. “Anybody can throw a dinner, but it’s getting people to understand what it’s all about that’s most important. It gets people excited to be fundraising for a purpose, and that makes me feel rejuvenated.”
“I ask people if they realized that 40 years ago almost every field had a pothole,” says Williams. “Now, they’ve all been drained away. People don’t realize wetlands help prevent floods and they purify our water. People forget about that. I remind them how important is and tell them if we stop conserving, we’d be in very big trouble.”
Williams’ favourite memory is when he first got involved with what used to be the Steinbach committee and they ended up making it the top producing dinner in Manitoba after a year hiatus. “It was an exciting dinner that brought people in from a big area.”
Although Williams just turned 71, he says he’s a young guy at heart and his wife is the same way. His goals for DUC are to get younger people involved, to pass on the value of conservation and also to bring some fresh fundraising ideas. Williams also aims to bring in some “bigger players” for funding. Williams believes a good volunteer requires hustle and drive.
“Whenever you ask someone if they are interested in volunteering and they say ‘I’m so busy,’ I say ‘good – that’s the kind of person we need! We don’t want someone who isn’t busy. We want active go-getters.”
Vote Jim for DUC’s national Volunteer of the Year to celebrate his efforts and show some provincial pride! You can vote once a day until voting closes Friday, April 1, 2016.