This year, National Volunteer Week (NVW) will take place in Canada from April 24th to 30th. In Quebec, this year’s theme is “Volunteering changes lives.” Led by the Fédération des centres d’action bénévole du Québec (FCABQ), NVW helps recognize the work of all volunteers, regardless of their area of involvement.
According to a 2018 survey from the Réseau de l’action bénévole du Québec (RABQ), NVW is the best-known recognition event for volunteers and the general public alike. Despite this, a high percentage of the population believes volunteering is more accessible to the elderly and happens mostly in the social service sector. When looking at the volunteering ecosystem, it is clear that volunteering is much more than just that. In fact, volunteers are everywhere. They participate on the school council at your children’s schools. They organize your town’s music festival. They coach your kids in sports. They maintain the outdoor trails in your area. They organize activities at the campsites where you vacation. They write articles in the local newspaper or produce TV shows with a local flavour. They mentor youth or entrepreneurs.
They are often the first face you see when you go to your local library. They are artists who share their knowledge and passion with others. They welcome you and show you the way in hospitals or provide free professional services to nonprofit organizations. They help new parents care for their newborns, they clean local riverbanks, and help newcomers get settled in. Volunteers are everywhere, indeed.
Almost two million Quebecers volunteer every year. In Canada, close to thirteen million people get involved every year in volunteer activities.
It is not just retired individuals that get involved; volunteers come from every age group and background. Volunteering is accessible to people of any age, and covers every aspect of our lives. Volunteering can also be adaptable to most schedules and life realities.
Anyone can volunteer and that is the very reason why volunteers are everywhere, even where we expect it the least. They were helping before the pandemic, and they continue to help as we look towards a recovery. Organizations always need help - and you don’t need to wait for the next crisis to join forces with them. You can pick various sectors, find an area you are truly passionate about, and adapt your volunteering time to fit your own schedule. Whether you want to commit to a couple of hours a week or to several days a month, you will find your perfect match. As a result, you will also reap the many benefits that this incredible experience can provide to those who choose to volunteer. A 2021 survey from Imagine Canada and Mental Health Research Canada found that giving and volunteering improves mental health for two thirds of Canadians, because it strengthens their social network and helps them keep a positive outlook.
Volunteering not only benefits society at large, it is also just as beneficial to the volunteers themselves. Studies all come to the same conclusion: in addition to mental health, volunteering is also good for your physical health. In fact, a 2017 study showed that volunteers are as healthy as non-volunteers who are 5 years younger.
So, go ahead and change your life by volunteering!
Guest contributions represent the personal opinions and insights of the authors and may not reflect the views or opinions of Imagine Canada.