Staying connected with the local community is a great way for seniors to stay social, especially for those who don’t live near their friends and family. Social connections are a key part of healthy aging for seniors.
Volunteering is a great wayto maintain social engagement, especially after retirement. During the busy winter months, many local non-profit organizations, charities, and schools have an increased need for volunteers. Some seniors may want to volunteer but can’t commit year-round or aren’t sure how to get involved. Some seniors don’t know what skills they may be able to offer. Read on for tips on how and where you might be able to volunteer this holiday season.
Assess Your Skills and Interests
Before you start thinking about where you might like to volunteer, think about which of your skills and interests you’d like to offer to your community. If you used to teach children, you might prefer to volunteer at a school or library helping children make holiday crafts or read new books. Or maybe you have an eye for décor and want to help decorate the downtown corridor with lights and ornaments ahead of the holidays. Perhaps you are very extroverted and enjoy talking to people – you might like to be a greeter at a local holiday event. Many cities and towns will host dinners, parties, food drives and Christmas markets in the wintertime for their residents and will always need volunteers to assist in various ways with those events.
There are lots of ways to conduct research about where to volunteer in your community. Think about the businesses and non-profit organizations in your community that work in fields in which you’re interested.
Local organizations may advertise that they are looking for volunteers online, on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Volunteer opportunities will often be available within your city or town, and communities usually start looking for volunteers in early November for the holiday season. You can also browse Volunteer Canada, a registered charity dedicated to encouraging Canadians to volunteer. They have numerous resources to help engage Canadians in volunteering and celebrate the important volunteers across the country. There is also a British Columbia-specific website that can help you find more community resources. You could also try contacting your local seniors networks to find other potential opportunities in your area.
Many organizations that need volunteers year-round may need additional volunteers during the holiday season, so if you aren’t able to commit to volunteering for long periods of time or on a consistent basis, finding holiday-specific events and programs can be great for short-term volunteering opportunities.
If you’re unable to volunteer in an in-person setting, sometimes you may be able to find virtual volunteer opportunities. This is a great option if there aren’t many volunteer opportunities near you. These may be available primarily year-round but sometimes there may be holiday-specific opportunities. You can volunteer skills like writing, photography, graphic design and more. Volunteer Canada recommends browsing sites like iVolunteer and filtering by virtual opportunities to find something that interests you. While virtually volunteering may not be as social as in-person volunteering, it still brings with it numerous benefits!
Route65.ca hopes you get involved this holiday season and use our tips for finding volunteer opportunities that work for you and your community!
Cathy Cassata. “Why It’s Important to Stay Social as You Age – and 5 Ways to Do It.” Healthline. September 20, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/staying-social-as-a-senior.
“Volunteering.” Government of British Columbia. n.d. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/active-aging/volunteering.