DON’T LET IT GO TO WASTE
I’m a little addicted to the news. I think it’s important to know what’s going on in the world and lately, there has certainly been a lot of news-none of it much good. But every now and then you hear something that makes you consider something you’ve never really thought about before. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
I heard that the food bank in Calgary was struggling to fulfil the need because of their lack of volunteers. The issue seems to be that most of their volunteers are seniors and since seniors are in the high-risk group for Covid, the food bank couldn’t have them there and the seniors weren’t too keen on it either. Parallel to that I also heard about how there were concerns in the federal government about having a snap election. Of course, in the middle of pandemic, it doesn’t sound like a good idea generally. Nor does the millions of dollars it would cost sound wise during this economic hit. But that’s not the reason they gave.
The issue it appears, is that most people who work elections are seniors. Although it’s not a volunteer job, having done the job myself, the pay is pretty bad, not quite volunteering but enough to keep you accountable to showing up. And, of course, putting it on your income tax.
These two situations got me thinking about the pool of volunteers and incidental workers which is filled by seniors. A brief cruise of the Internet for volunteer opportunities in Calgary demonstrates clearly that seniors provide a wealth of service to the community. Covid has made it apparent that some places do not function well without these seniors.
Confederation Park +55 Activity Centre is an organization which serves the needs of the seniors but is also powered by a group of volunteers, almost all of whom are seniors. When contemplating retirement, the intention to volunteer was part of my plan. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right place. But if you’re a senior reading this, I encourage you to pursue the right place for you to volunteer. Do not underestimate what you can contribute.
Seniors represent a wealth of experience, education and wisdom. Once retired, our minds do not go to sawdust. I think about all the professional training my occupation gave me and which now I tap into as a volunteer. It strikes me that it’s an obvious move for society to utilize the expertise of seniors as volunteers. We are not simply burdens on society who drive too slow and complain too much because we have “nothing better to do”.
The next time you are in the presence of seniors, I challenge you to ask them about their lives. In particular, ask the women. Sometimes we assume that only the men had responsible, ‘important’ jobs. What I’ve learned is that there are amazing female seniors whose stories tell of great accomplishment and tacit knowledge.
Acknowledging the wisdom of elders is a tradition in many cultures. I’m not sure it’s a tradition in ours but it should be. Take away the seniors and leave many holes in service. This is another lesson Covid is teaching us. So seniors, go get your Covid vaccine and as soon as it’s safe, go volunteer. Society needs you!