People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some, it offers the chance to give something back to their local community. For others, it provides an opportunity to develop new skills. During times of uncertainty and challenges, many of us feel the need to lend a hand. In fact, volunteers are needed more than ever before. Older Canadians make a significant contribution to our society through volunteering. However, Global News reports that thousands of seniors across Canada who would normally be volunteering are staying at home to protect their health.
If volunteering is already part of your everyday life – we applaud you! For the rest of us thinking about lending a hand to others, here’s where you can volunteer in Canada at a distance, or even volunteering virtually.
3 Benefits of volunteering
While volunteering is ultimately about giving back to others, did you know there are some real benefits for you in sharing your time and energy?
Volunteering benefits your career
Volunteering can boost your career, which is great news for anyone starting out in their chosen field. If your resume is slim on experience, giving our time to organizations is one way to beef it up – at the same time as doing some good. Another benefit of volunteering is developing new relationships outside of your current social circle, which can lead to career opportunities.
2. You’ll develop new skills
One of the benefits of volunteering is the opportunity to develop new skills, especially the soft skills you need to succeed in the workplace. Soft skills include communication, teamwork, and creative thinking. It’s also a great opportunity to build new skills in a way that won’t jeopardize your career. You can also share the skills you already have. If you’re interested in a career in marketing, offer to help generate buzz for a charitable organization. Handy with a needle and thread? Sew masks for essential service workers. Or put your accounting skills to work and offer virtual tax aid.
3. You’ll feel good
Volunteering has also been proven to make you happier. Studies have shown that people who regularly volunteer report higher levels of self-esteem and happiness. So, not only will you do good, you’ll feel good.
Areas that are commonly in need of volunteers
Food insecurity is a reality for many Canadians. Food distribution programs and food banks rely on volunteers to pack food boxes, deliver free groceries, or prepare food – now more than ever before. The People’s Pantry is a grassroots organization that grew out of the response to the current pandemic. They deliver grocery bundles and hot meals across the GTA. Programs operate in many major cities, including the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Feed Nova Scotia, and Calgary’s Community Kitchen.
Mental health services
Coping with the stress of the day-to-day when life is far from predictable takes a toll on mental health. Free, community-based organizations are crucial at this time. Organizations, such as Kids Help Phone and SpeakMind rely on volunteers so that others who may be struggling can share their feelings and access the support they need.
Older Canadians who are sheltering at home rely on assistance from volunteers for everything from delivering groceries to tech assistance. Cyber-Seniors is an example of one organization serving this community. They match tech-savvy volunteers with older Canadians who need help navigating the world wide web, and volunteers are currently assisting with virtual tasks like shopping online. The Alzheimer Society’s Music Project also relies on volunteers to help create playlists for people with dementia.
Where to volunteer across Canada
So you want to volunteer, but not sure where to start? The Pan Canadian Matching Platform can help match you up with more than 75,000 opportunities to give back by connecting to local volunteer centres. Their search is broken down into sectors, such as arts and culture, animal welfare, sports, the environment, and mental health, meaning you can spend your energies in an area you’re passionate about. It also asks about any skills you want to develop, including leadership, creative, fundraising, and technology.
Here are some other volunteer organizations by province to get you started:
Alberta & Saskatchewan
Operated by the Volunteer Centre of Calgary, VolunteerConnector allows you to volunteer digitally and matches your skills with organizations that need them. Opportunities exist in categories from IT support to the environment to social support to design and journalism. What better way to beef up your resume?
This “one-stop-shop” for volunteering connects you with opportunities across British Columbia. If your passion is animal welfare, social action, sports, or politics, you’ll be matched with organizations that need your help.
Volunteer NS provides opportunities for Nova Scotians to volunteer in their local community in a range of areas that interest you. The organization also offers stay-at-home opportunities.
One of Canada’s largest volunteer centres, they have over 40 years of experience matching volunteers with local organizations. There is a range of opportunities – from mentoring young people to working as a translator to coding to designing marketing materials.
SPARK Ontario grew out of the Pan/Parapan American Games in 2015 and is a bilingual online volunteer organization. You can search for a range of volunteer opportunities across the province.
The organization matches volunteers with non-profit organizations across the province. The website lets you search for opportunities in a range of areas, including food preparation and distribution, calling vulnerable Canadians and reception.
Seek volunteer opportunities that will help your career grow
Volunteering is a great opportunity to learn more about ourselves, develop new skills, and feel good about it at the same time. Your new skills can be applied to future roles and can even help you land your next job.
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