April 24-30 is National Volunteer Week
If you ask any volunteer about why they give their time and abilities, you are likely to hear that it’s because the experience is incredibly rewarding. Many organizations and groups rely on the generosity of volunteers to help make real-world change, so playing a role – big or small – is vital to their success. Volunteering not only helps those in need – it can also change your life for the better.
Volunteering is good for you
Studies have shown that helping others can benefit both your mental and physical health in many ways. A nice perk to volunteering is that it allows you to meet new people and make new friends. Connecting with people in your community can combat loneliness and depression, help build your confidence, improve your social skills and offer a sense of belonging.
Volunteering can also keep you active. Opportunities that get you up and moving can improve your physical health – lowering blood pressure and stress levels. A bonus is the fresh air you might get if you choose to help outdoors.
And the best part? It’s fun! There are so many interesting ways you can give your time, and you are almost guaranteed to find something meaningful that you enjoy.
Finding a volunteer opportunity
Before you commit to a volunteer role, you should ask yourself a few questions to help find the right fit:
· How much time can you dedicate?
· What causes are you passionate about?
· What are your interests?
· What skills can you contribute?
· What do you want to learn from the experience?
· Do you prefer teamwork or working on your own?
When you are ready to begin your search for an opportunity that suits you, try looking in local newspapers, websites like Volunteer Canada or Charity Village and community bulletin boards. You can even reach out directly to the group or organization you are interested in and offer your help.
Manitoba Blue Cross staff love volunteering!
Need a little inspiration? Check out what a few of our staff members have to say about why they volunteer:
“I can honestly say that I approach each volunteer role I am given as a gift. The thought that even one small thing that I do reaches so many fills me with such pride for the organizations. I have learned over the years that to be a committee member is truly a commitment to myself and the community on a whole. I do my best to show compassion and take on challenges as they come. Currently I am on a few committees within the city, and I am honoured to be a part of it all.”
- La-Toya Gibbons, Client Administration, Life Representative
“I have been involved in Girl Guides of Canada for over 20 years, some of those years being girl years. My enjoyment comes from connecting with the girls and offering them transferable skills that will hopefully stay with them. I love taking them camping and exploring the outdoors. For some, it is their first experience in a tent or even sleeping away from home. It gives me pride to watch the scared five-year-old girl become so confident and challenged and ready to take on the world by the time she moves up to Brownies. Giving back to the community has always been something very important to me and my role of a Girl Guide leader helps me do that. All the experiences we have ‘fills my bucket.’”
- Stacie MacVicar, Claims Team Lead
“One of the reasons I enjoy volunteering my time as a karate instructor is my strong belief in the positive effects that training in karate has on people. Seven years ago, the chance to open my own club came up and my teaching partner at the time suggested we focus on making traditional karate available to everyone. Our club focuses a lot on creating a dynamically inclusive environment for lower income families, first-generation and new Canadians, Indigenous members and anyone who wants to train with us. All our instructors donate and volunteer time to the club, and we donate any profits to local charities. Volunteering my time to teach others and helping them learn from my experiences has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
- James James, Customer Service Representative