Volunteering – Make A Difference Day Is Saturday October 27

volunteersUSA Weekend Magazine and Points of Light for more than 20 years have joined together to sponsor Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service.  This year it will take place on Saturday October 27.  Everyone is encouraged to get involved with some volunteering project on that day. It’s a timely reminder of the importance of volunteers in society and seniors can be a big part of this volunteerism movement as you will see in what follows.  volunteer with teenagers

What Seniors Gain By Volunteering

Volunteering is very much a Win-Win Affair.  Those who benefit from the volunteering are certainly grateful for what they receive.  However those who do the volunteering are often proud and happy with what they are able to achieve.
Volunteering is a two-way street, an exchange of sorts whereby, in return for your donation of time and skills, you get back something special. People who volunteer to help others have an increased sense of self-worth, feel needed, have a stronger will to live, and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.  If you feel lost, lonely or frustrated, with no sense of purpose in your life, seek out an interest that will give you a more fulfilling lifestyle. Volunteering may be your remedy.
In particular, the majority of seniors who volunteer feel that their community service is the most important thing they do. They are pleased to find ways to use their lifetime of skills and experience to make an impact on issues they care about.  This is a movement that is occurring around the world and there are many resources available if you are looking for volunteering opportunities.

Volunteering in Canada

Volunteer Canada represents and promotes volunteerism in Canada. The website includes resources, information, and a directory of volunteer organizations.
We Believe…
  • That volunteering is fundamental to a healthy, democratic society and that everybody has the right and responsibility to contribute.
  • That every action counts and that people should be able to contribute in ways that work for them.
  • That voluntary organizations play a fundamental role in community health and vitality and are essential agents in building social capital.
  • In inspiring Canadians to give back and in supporting them through their volunteering journeys.
  • That we learn through our mistakes and that taking calculated risks is an essential part of moving forward.
  • In doing what we say and saying what we do by being authentic and genuine in voice and action.
  • That nobody stands alone and partnerships and alliances are key to our collective success.
Another website that is free and easy to use is VolWeb.ca.  It was created to increase access to volunteer opportunities and create the spirit of volunteerism.  It caters particularly for those seeking short-term volunteer opportunities at events.
VolWeb.ca™ can help you build a legacy that will benefit your community for years to come: a network of experienced and enthusiastic volunteers who can contribute to the success of all your local events.

Volunteering in the USA

Volunteers of Americais a non-profit human service organization that helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities in 46 states and the District of Columbia.  This is a vast website with a large number of volunteering opportunities.  The current featured headlines are: Another organization particularly for seniors is Senior Corps. This acknowledges that seniors are one of America’s most vital resources – offering a wealth of experience, skills and empathy for others.
Americans 55+ have a lifetime of experience to share and the desire to make a real difference in their world. They’ve managed households, been business owners and nurses, farmers and salespeople, artists and executives. Now they are ready to put their unique talents and expertise to work in their communities, and enrich their own lives in the process.

Volunteering in the UK

There are a number of resources online.  One of these is the Senior Citizens Network – Volunteer.
  • Older volunteers are a great asset to their communities since they possess the experience, expertise and time that can greatly benefit any organisation or cause.
  • Volunteering increases ones physical health and agility -volunteering helps older people stay physically active. Seniors who engage in physical activity have lower incidences of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Volunteering helps you learn new skills and increases ones cognitive and mental well-being -volunteering helps keep the brain engaged, which helps protect the memory as people age. In fact, experts say that engaging in mentally challenging tasks is one of the best ways to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia!
  • Volunteering helps you meet new people and increases ones social interaction – studies show that seniors who stay busy with a lot of social interaction were the happiest and healthiest.
Another well-known organization is VSO.
By volunteering with VSO, you get to put your skills, energy and personal qualities to work helping people break out of poverty.  We’re currently looking for people from all sorts of backgrounds, from health and education through to engineering, IT and management.  We have placements in over 30 countries all over the world.

Volunteering in Australia

Go Volunteer is a non-profit initiative designed to make volunteering easier. Go Volunteer brings Volunteers & Volunteering Organisations Together.
GoVolunteer has a large range of volunteer roles including one off, short term and long term opportunities and many volunteer involving organisations can be flexible with times. We also make it easy for you to find a volunteer role that suits your interests, motivation, availability and location.
In particular for senior volunteers, a useful government website is seniors.gov.au – Volunteering which is the online source for all senior Australians.   This also provides a link to Volunteering Australia, which is the national peak body for volunteering in Australia. Volunteering Australia supports volunteers and volunteer involving organisations through a range of programs and resources.

Volunteering Can Lead to Employment

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Volunteering is rewarding in itself.  However if you are looking for ongoing employment, it can offer other benefits, such as:
  • Showcasing your talents
  • Networking with potential employers who may be impressed by what they see.
  • Learning opportunities to extend your skills.
In summary, volunteering has only upsides and benefits.  If you have not yet tried this, it’s not too late.  Why not Make a Difference on Saturday October 27th. Photo credit: Courtesy of Images by John ‘K’ via photopin cc
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