The search is on for Canada’s most outstanding senior volunteer

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Volunteerism begins in your community. It requires giving your time, energy and skills freely to an organization or cause, and providing the opportunity to build new life experiences, meet new people and learn new skills.

In Canada, more than 13.3 million people, or 47 per cent of the population, volunteered their time through a group or organization. Although, the overall number of volunteers declines as volunteers age, the number of hours spent volunteering actually increases. For example, according to the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) individuals 65 and older volunteered an average of 218 hours, while 15 to 24 year olds volunteered an average of only 138 hours.

Volunteering provides this generation the opportunity to facilitate positive change, increase social activity and social networks – two aspects of life that tend to decrease with age and can contribute to isolation and dependency. Volunteering can also help people through some of life’s major transitions, such as retirement or the death of a spouse or loved one.

To honor and show appreciation for this dedicated generation of volunteers the Salute to Senior Service® award program was developed by Home Instead Senior Care® as a way to showcase the effort and time these selfless individuals dedicate to their communities.

Last year 78 year old, Winnipeg resident Lesley Iredale, was the national recipient of the Salute to Senior Service award for her years of dedicated volunteer services to a number of organizations in her community, including the Guild of the Victoria General Hospital. “Volunteering adds a new dimension to life, and we can all give back to the community in one way or another. There’s no doubt that it makes you feel younger.” said Iredale.

Nominations for outstanding senior volunteers will be accepted between February 1 and March 31, 2013. A winner from each province (excluding Quebec) then will be selected by popular vote at SalutetoSeniorService.ca. Online voting will then take place from April 15 to April 30, 2013. From those provincial winners, a panel of senior care experts, including CARP’s own Susan Eng, will pick the national Salute to Senior Service honoree.

Home Instead Inc. will donate $500 to each of the provincial winners’ favourite nonprofit organizations and their stories will be posted on the Salute to Senior Service Wall of Fame. In addition, $5,000 will be donated to the national winner’s nonprofit charity of choice.

Through this program, these seniors, who could otherwise be spending their retirement relaxing on the golf-course or vacationing their favorite spot, will be recognized for their contributions, which not only make a difference to the organizations they serve, but changes the way the public views the aging population and the way they spend their time.

To complete and submit a nomination form for a deserving senior age 65 or older who volunteers at least 15 hours a month, and to view the contest’s official rules, please visit SalutetoSeniorService.ca. You can fill out the online nomination form or mail completed nomination forms to Salute to Senior Service, P.O. Box 444 Toronto F, Toronto, ON, M4Y 2L8.

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