What I wish I had known: Advice for new volunteers

A note to new or aspiring volunteers: “I know this volunteer position will be one of the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. To help a fellow citizen in a time of disaster will make you feel unbelievably great.”
Hazel Cole with her granddaughter Eryn on the front steps of a home.
Do you want to make a difference? Are you looking for a way to contribute to your community in a valuable way? You can make a change through volunteering.

The Canadian Red Cross provides communities with support and assistance however our work is only possible with our dedicated volunteers.

Within the Red Cross, there are about 17,000 active volunteers across Canada and up to 17 million volunteers around the world. The Red Cross is the leading humanitarian organization who plays a critical role in delivering services to the vulnerable.

A few of our volunteers have written pieces of advice that reflect on their experience as a volunteer for the Canadian Red Cross, check it out below.


“I volunteer to show my grandchildren how to give back to our community.”
 -Hazel Cole with her granddaughter Eryn, Newfoundland and Labrador

You can ask questions!

It’s ok not to know it all. Communicate with your team and always be ready to learn.

Handwritten advice from a volunteer

  • “You know more than you think you do. If you don’t know what to do, be kind and listen.”
  •  “Always feel comfortable to approach any volunteer. Everyone is a great source of information.”
  • “You do not need to know all the ‘rules’ to provide support and change someone’s life in a time of crisis... don’t be afraid to ask.”

You are supported!

We are here for you. The whole Red Cross supports you. Don’t be afraid.
Three female and one male Red Cross volunteer with 'Welcome Home' written underneath

  • “One thing I’ve learned in my first few responses is that the whole Red Cross supports you. So, don’t be afraid to go out on a response.”
  • “Always remember no matter how much we have going on, or how hectic a disaster response is- there’s always time to take a breather and talk to another volunteer. We are here for you.”
  • “Over the many years I have met such great fellow volunteers who really are friends now. It is very rewarding. Don’t get discouraged, there are ups and downs.”

Your efforts are not forgotten.

Even the smallest gestures are so important. You are greatly appreciated.
Written note saying 'BEST GROUP OF PEOPLE EVER!'
  • “Even the smallest gestures of help are so important to people in need. Please don’t forget that. People will not forget your assistance or kindness.”
  • “This is a wonderful opportunity to serve those in need and your work and participation is greatly appreciated.”


You just need to get out there!

Take advantage of every opportunity. Trust yourself. You can do it!
Volunteers Deanna and Jillian, two young women in glasses
  • “Take advantage of the training and look for opportunities to get involved.”
  • “The more you get involved the more you’ll be involved- this may seem strange, but attend meetings, join logistics, volunteer for special projects, and people will get to know you and provide you with even more opportunities.”
  • “Trust yourself! All clients really need at first is to feel heard and [receive] compassion.”
“I volunteer because it only takes one person to make a difference. I want to help the world become a better place, and the best way to do that is by volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross.” - Deanna Higdon, Newfoundland and Labrador
We need you! No matter what your skills, or where you are, you can help. Learn more about Volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross.

Check out our video below, where a collection of our volunteers share their advice for new volunteers:


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