Canada’s Senior Volunteers Give Ageing a New Face


If you’ve ever browsed the “birthday humor” section at a greeting card store, you understand how readily our society associates growing older with aches, ailments and limitations. But many older adults today challenge that stereotype, especially those who stay active through volunteering.

Whether comforting hospice patients, stocking shelves at a food bank, mentoring school children, or any number of other activities, 47 per cent of seniors in Canada volunteer their time and talents through unpaid community service, according to a national study conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network.

Seniors devoted to volunteering not only set a positive example by serving others, but they also demonstrate a healthier model of ageing.

“There is a sense of well-being that you get from volunteering and it offers huge health benefits,” says Ruth MacKenzie, President and CEO of Volunteer Canada. “You get more physically active and intellectually active, and connect in a meaningful way to your community. The health benefits associated with volunteering are a means to combat isolation and loneliness.”

According to the national Home Instead Senior Care study, 99 per cent of senior volunteers surveyed said they feel better physically when they volunteer, and 98 per cent said they feel better mentally and emotionally when they volunteer.

To promote the health benefits of volunteering, encourage a positive outlook on aging and celebrate seniors who stay active through community service, the Home Instead Senior Care network is conducting the national Salute to Senior Service Contest.

The contest recognizes Canada’s most outstanding senior volunteers, nominated by their fellow community members. Nominees have a chance to win up to $5,500 for their favourite non-profit volunteer organization.

For volunteers like Arch Spencer, last year’s Province Winner for Newfoundland and Labrador, the joy and passion involved in serving others far outweighs any monetary prize. As one of the members of his community said, “Although now 81, and after battling some serious illnesses, Mr. Spencer is still going strong! From our local church, to our school and many places within the community, you’ll be sure to see him. He always has a smile and willing helpful hand. He is proudly one of our town’s super seniors!”

Voting for this year’s contest will take place between April 15 and April 30. The nominee in each province (excluding Quebec) who receives the most votes will be named a Province Winner and win $500 to their non-profit volunteer organization of choice. Members of the public may vote once per day during the voting period.

Province Winners also receive the chance to become the National Winner, which will be selected by a panel of senior care experts, including CARP’s own Susan Eng. The National Winner will receive $5,000 to his or her non-profit volunteer organization of choice.

You can help recognize the outstanding contributions of senior volunteers by viewing the entries and voting for the volunteer you feel most deserves to win.

To learn more about the contest and receive updates such as voting reminders and winner announcements, you can sign up for contest notifications.

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