Maturity is relative

Volunteering has hidden health benefits

February 2, 2017 - Tom New

"Volunteering" is one of those concepts we hear about, but many of us don't really understand. About half of all Canadians volunteer for various causes. Why do people give up their own time (and sometimes money) to volunteer to do someone else's work? Are volunteers more altruistic? Do they feel compelled to volunteer?

A Psychology Today article notes five benefits to volunteering- and the first reason alone should make you sit up and take notice: Volunteers live longer and are healthier. PT says that, especially with older people - that would be us- volunteering does more for your overall heath that exercising and eating well. They state, in no uncertain terms, that "older people who volunteer remain physically functional longer, have more robust psychological well-being, and live longer." 

Volunteering also gives people a sense of purpose.  If you're going to volunteer your time and expertise, it's natural that you want to do it for activities you are passionate about, and that you feel will make a difference in your community and for society as a whole.

And of course, one of the most basic reasons people volunteer is to be around other people, usually those who share a passion.

In Ottawa and Gatineau, there are lots of places to volunteer. You could donate anything from an hour or two a week, to many more hours (older volunteers tend to donate more of their time than other age groups). Volunteering can range from working for music festivals to sitting on a board, from walking dogs at the Humane Society or SPCA to counselling and mentoring new Canadians, from working in a food bank to delivering meals. Hospitals need volunteers, as do libraries.

Here's where to start (or simply Google 'volunteering in Ottawa'): 

Volunteer Ottawa looks at hands-on opportunities to connect volunteers with organizations that can benefit from their expertise.

Volunteer Canada is a busy site promoting itself as the "national voice for volunteerism in Canada". Some political activity, but solid general info about volunteerism and civic participation.


Says you: tell us what you think.

Have a story or article you'd like to share? Click here or send us an email at

© 2018