The joys of volunteering
When you volunteer, you give a lot and you get a lot back that is above and beyond money. However, choosing the right volunteering experience is crucial.
BY: Rowena Zheng
Ruth MacKenzie, president and CEO of Volunteer Canada, shared: “You get more physically- and intellectually-active, and connect in a meaningful way to your community, and that’s the big one. The health benefits associated with volunteering are a means to combat isolation and loneliness.”
With their knowledge and experience, senior volunteers are a natural fit with charities as they have the time to give back to society in a meaningful way. They always have a bright smile on their face, and when tasked even with the simplest job, they take pride and fulfil it to the best of their ability. They have wonderful vocals that charm those they serve, and they are the best at recycling materials by creating amazing art pieces from magazine paper to tin cans.
In Singapore, with the baby boomers entering their Third Age, we will see an increase in skilled seniors who wish to contribute back to their community. Base on the Individual Giving Survey conducted by National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) back in 2010, there is an increase in seniors aged 55 to 64 years volunteering from 14 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2010. Never underestimate what a senior volunteer can contribute, they bring about passion, commitment and experience that no one else can.
Here are 11 ways for seniors to have a happy volunteering experience:
- Find your interest – Before starting on any volunteering activity, it is always important to find an activity or a cause of your interest, be it with children, elderly or animals. That way, you will then find enjoyment in volunteering and look forward to your next volunteering activity.
- Encourage friends to volunteer with you – We all need companions. Yes, you will meet new friends, but why not encourage your friends to volunteer their time as well. You can spend valuable time giving back, and have your friends around you contributing at the same time.
- Consider joining an interest group within your neighbourhood – Every Resident’s Committee or Community Centre provides opportunities for seniors to actively get involved in. Contributing in your neighbourhood will give you the chance to take ownership within the community you live in. Look out for an interest group that you might be keen in and join them! For example, tending to gardens in your neighbourhood.
- Contribute your skills and talents – You have years of experience, so put your skills and talents to good use. If you have good handicraft or culinary skills, share them with others. Or if you have been a long-time accountant, maybe help with the accounting work at a charity.
- Pace yourself – Volunteering is fun, and you will want to be involved in every opportunity possible. But do pace yourself, and ensure you have sufficient rest. Do not overstrain yourself by performing tasks that require too much physical strength if you are unable to cope.
- Be open to try new things – When volunteering, you will be tasked to do things you might not have done before, or to perform a task different from how you would have done it. Keep an open mind and try doing things a different way.
- Do not limit yourself to what you can do – We do not expect you to climb a tree or carry a tonne of items at a go. But do not limit your capabilities to contribute and lead. Provide ideas and thoughts along the way to create a great volunteering opportunity.
- Location, location, location – Do look for a location ideal for you that would be easy and convenient to travel to. This will ensure a safe journey for you that does not require too much time.
- The right time – You can make volunteering a part of your lifestyle. Make time to volunteer. Find the right time that fits into your schedule and lifestyle.
- Most importantly … have fun! – Volunteering is about giving back and contributing to the society. Remember to have fun at the same time. Be a happy and contented volunteer.
- Share – Do spread your volunteering experience to others including your grandchildren so they may inculcate a giving mindset as they grow up.
Rowena Zheng is in volunteer engagement at SG Cares, part of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre.