Recently-retired people get all kinds of invitations to volunteer, which makes perfect sense as we supposedly have lots of newfound time to fill. Many people have the good fortune of beginning retirement while still full of energy, interest and compassion, along with an innate sense of responsibility. It’s the ‘go-go’ stage for us! And many of us will happily step into new volunteer roles, or expand the time we already invest in volunteering, and that’s a wonderful win-win commitment all around! But older Canadians, even with all the extra time in retirement, actually aren’t the age group that can boast the highest number of volunteers. That stat lands with young Canadians.
Statistics Canada data shows that young people aged 15-24 years have the highest probability of volunteering than any other age group in the country. Fifty-eight percent of people this age are more likely to volunteer than any other age group. The study, which is slightly old now – someone should really volunteer to update it, shows that seniors over 65 have the lowest number of volunteers than the rate of all other ages. Conversely, though, people over 65 are volunteering the highest number of hours than those at any other age, at an average of 223 hours per year. So less of us are doing most of the work… sheesh, it sounds like my career all over again!
So, statistically, people in retirement are showing their devotion to causes through the sheer amount of time they invest. It keeps them connected to others, engaged in the community, interested in current events. It may keep your mind open and your heart soft, too. Volunteering in retirement lets you share your talents, but it also allows you to glean new perspectives – not only for the cause you are championing but for this phase of familiarizing yourself with the benefits of starting to slow down. There are all sorts of organizations that rely on volunteers – some will allow you to contribute while you learn a new skill or hobby. But you can also begin to build a new relationship with leisure.
Volunteering can be a deep emotional commitment, like the exceptional compassion people bring to assist individuals who have been harmed or those new to Canada or those in the hospital. But volunteering can also be simply reaching out to your neighbour with a small gesture. Statistically, 83 percent of Canadians in all age groups indicated they assisted someone who needed help at least once in the previous year, with everything from providing housework or unpaid childcare, to running errands or shoveling snow. Whether it’s a large commitment that impacts people around the world, or a small gesture that brightens the day of someone around the corner, volunteers of all ages are making a huge difference. Thank you for volunteering!
Sandy Bexon is stepping into retirement after over 35 years as a communications professional, reporter and writer. She lives in Red Deer.