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Want to volunteer? Here’s how (and why you should)!

By Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross blogger
 
If you’ve decided to give some of your free time volunteering, and are now wondering how to get involved, here is some information on what’s involved in volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross.

First of all, kudos to you! Volunteering is a great opportunity to give back to your community, and the benefits of voluntarism extend beyond building your skillset, meeting new people or learning something new, it is also proved to help you live longer!

Studies show volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her research found those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar to other research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier.

Also volunteering helps you have a healthier body! A Corporation for National and Community Service report noted: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functionality and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

There are many ways to get involved as a volunteer with the Canadian Red CrossThere are many ways you can get involved in great causes – for the Canadian Red Cross, our variety of programs provide many volunteer opportunities.

“There are so many great volunteer opportunities in our communities and opportunities for everyone to get involved,” said Stephanie Etkin, Manager of Volunteer Resources for the Canadian Red Cross in the GTA. “Whether it’s in an office, remotely using technical skills or being an ambassador, I encourage you to go online and make a connection.”

The application process for those interested in volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross can be completed online at www.redcross.ca/volunteer. Take note of useful information found in Before You Apply.

“In Ontario, people can email us at ozone@redcross.ca and we can send a list of available opportunities and the application form, which designates their interests – a cover letter helps outline interests as well,” explained Etkin. “After interviewing, the successful candidate will have a couple screen checks (such as a Vulnerable Sector screen check). It is a bit of a process but we take this very seriously.”

The most common volunteer request is for disaster management, said Etkin; however, community programs like Meals on Wheels are consistently in need of volunteers and make a real difference in the lives of our clients.

“Disaster management does seem to be most popular with approximately 75 per cent of interest,” she noted. “Second to that would be Community Initiative Programs for face-to-face contact with clients. But the program in dire need is Meals on Wheels as volunteer trends have shifted in that program, creating a challenge to recruit volunteers through traditional means. We are looking at more creative solutions that are better able to meet the needs of our new generation of volunteers.”

Meals on Wheels volunteer positions include drivers and runners to deliver warm and nutrition meals to clients, while simultaneously checking on their well-being. 

With any position, there is training – a necessary step in ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

“The successful candidate brought into the volunteer role will undergo training,” said Etkin. “Every volunteer position has a different training process. Within every program there are varying responsibilities so there is varying training. We also offer cross-training for those who have interest in learning a different role; we aim to open all learning and professional development opportunities to our teams.”

Find out what opportunities are available and of interest to you: redcross.ca/volunteer
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