Happy 2018! What was your “new year’s resolution? To lose weight, eat or drink less, exercise more? No matter who I canvassed, I didn’t hear resolutions to increase volunteering, bring about change, or increase our social justice commitments.
When I use those words “change”, “social justice” or “volunteering”, the “nearly” seniors (50 – 64) point to the “good” work done by the “older” seniors (75+). We “nearly” seniors need to start practicing now before we can do their good work.
Take for example church bake sales. I personally hate baking. I’m not good at it. I always support bake sales. In the past 10 years, though, those exceptional bakers who were my parents’ peers, are well into their retirement years. It is their children who bake for the bake sales…and guess what? These folks are not any better at baking than I am. With practice, I’m actually quite good at baking now.
The words social justice seems daunting. Yet Dan Benedict, a former OSSCO board member, is remembered for what he achieved with our prestigious Dan Benedict award. Dan Benedict, mentioned in the book, The CAW: Birth and Transformation of a Union, was an ordinary person. Dan was a lifelong supporter of working people and instrumental in establishing the CAW Paid Education Leave (PEL) program, the largest single adult educational program for working men and women in Canada. Dan didn’t achieve all of this in 1 day. He achieved extraordinary things simply by his actions and following his beliefs.
So how can I as an individual bring about change in 2018? I can find a group, an organization or causes I believe and give my time or money. I can give generations that follow us examples to live by through random acts of kindness, keeping an eye on a neighbour or visiting someone in hospital.
Every December we reflect on our successes, what we would do differently and our future goals. In anticipation of the holidays and New Year (or the madness of shopping that leads up to it), we are busy preparing for friends, family and feasting. Overtime, my holiday gifts seem to have become boring. How many pairs of socks or sweaters does a child, or teenager or adult need? This year, my gift is that of volunteering, whether formal or informal beyond what I do now in supporting our local foodbank as the “weekend elves” or my service club.
Contributing to community means more than a donation. Service clubs and community groups always need members to carry on their good works. Still as a society we only value paid work. Volunteer Canada estimated in 2013 the annual economic value of volunteering as $50 Billion. Now that’s real value, if you ask me!
Volunteering means sharing your experiences and talents such as helping with a charity fundraising or gala event. Volunteering can also be a “one-time activity” which you repeat annually such as Christmas tree sales or a community Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteering allows you to explore possibilities, develop new skills and insight. Always wanted to make your voice heard on social justice issues? Then Amnesty International or Doctors without Borders could be the non-profits for you. Into animal wellbeing? Your local SPCA needs pet visitors to socialize animals or Green Peace to protect animals. Wanted to mentor a child? Big Brothers and Big Sister programs may be the one or hosting an international exchange student program. The list goes on and on, as do the possibilities.
Ontario Society of Senior Citizens’ Organizations /La Société des Organisations des Citoyens Aînés de l’Ontario (OSSCO/SOCAO)
OSSCO/SOCAO is a provincially registered charity. Our tag line "Seniors transforming Ontario through wisdom, insight and experience" reflects our mission and membership.
Founded in 1986, our goal is to improve the quality of life for Ontario seniors through educational programs, research and public policy awareness. Member organizations and individuals represent senior citizen networks, alliances, groups as well as the non-profit, government and private sector organizations who support the diverse and multicultural seniors community.