According to Wikipedia Dictionary, volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. It is the act of selflessly giving community service to something you believe in without the benefit of pay.
In a society where a person’s identity and self esteem are often a reflection of their occupation and how much they earn; it is difficult to accept that volunteering is “real meaningful work”, not just something retired people do to fill the long hours of the day.
People volunteer for many different reasons. Values and beliefs learned at home or church motivates some; the desire to “give back” for the help they received at some point in their lives motivates others.
Some want to make use of the skills they acquired during their careers, others just for fun and the opportunity to extend their social circle. Everyone has their own personal reasons to give of their time and efforts.
In reality, volunteering benefits not only the group receiving the service, but the volunteer as well. This is especially important for young people and those new immigrants to Canada. Volunteering provides an opportunity to improve your language skills in a social setting, much different than learning English from a textbook. The confidence gained as language skills improve, makes integration into Canadian daily life much easier.
The time spent as a volunteer brings you into contact with people from all walks of life. These social contacts can provide a network of support for all the different aspects of living and working in Canada.
When social contacts are made on a personal level within a volunteer organization, people are more committed personally to assist each other, whether by offering information about possible employment opportunities, new career opportunities or the necessities of daily living such as housing, medical care.
Volunteering makes a difference. Whether you choose a church group, an ethnic organization that interests you, or a service group, your personal commitment will broaden your horizons and your own personal growth.
In a society where a sense of personal entitlement prevails, we expend a lot of time and effort asking our government, communities, and churches to do things for us, so that our lives are happier and more fulfilled; and somehow we are still empty and unsatisfied in our daily lives.
To paraphrase president John F. Kennedy “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Being a volunteer is a giant first step.