Volunteers get involved to stay connected: study

Volunteer spirit is strong in the Alberni Valley, says Deb Walton, Heritage Place Program Coordinator.

Volunteers from Heritage Place gather for a team photo.

Volunteers from Heritage Place gather for a team photo.

The National Volunteer Week in Canada is an annual event that was instituted almost two decades ago  under the statement: “Volunteers are the roots of strong communities”.

This year for National Volunteer Week (April 10–16), our community joins millions of Canadians in presenting their salute and recognition to the thousands of men and women of all ages and walks of life to express their appreciation to the volunteers for the giving of their time.

The seniors of the Alberni Valley, especially those who live in seniors’ homes,  are the recipients of the good and unselfish spirit of other citizens who assist them in making possible a better quality of their lives.

Volunteer programs are based on the understanding that individuals come in all shapes, sizes, colours and ages, and have a wide range of skills and abilities to con-tribute, and want to do so for a variety of reasons. Interesting enough, volun-teering can play a vital role in healthy aging, for both the recipient and the giver, according to the latest studies.

The fact is that seniors’ homes count on the support of dozens of volunteers, most of them seniors themselves. A high number of them, now estimated at more than 12 million in Canada, are over 60 years old, and their numbers are steadily increasing, as the statistics point out.

Also, as the study suggests, “remaining active and staying connected to the com-munity by volun-teering, for example, can have a tremen-dous positive impact on a senior’s social, physical and emotional well-being.”

Older adults who volunteer have reduced stress-related illnesses and higher self-esteem and are less likely to feel isolated. Volunteering can also have a positive impact on lifestyle transitions in older adults as they retire, downsize their housing or deal with health issues.

It is also important to point out that recognition and approval, give the individual volunteer a feeling of warmth, pleasure and accomplishment. Meaningful recognition leads to increased satisfaction, which leads to increased volunteer retention.

“Every year we hold a special program, “Volunteer Appreciation”, which gives tenants and staff the opportunity to say thank you to the many community individuals and groups for their dedication and the giving of their time throughout the year, and a chance for our volunteers to come, sit and relax and socialize,” says Deb Walton, Heritage Place Program Coordinator.

Orlando Delano writes the monthly Valley Seniors column