Volunteering is the foundation of a caring society, and yet, Statistics Canada reports that less than 50% of Canadians volunteered in 2010. It is surprising that more individuals are not involved due to the vast number and variety of volunteer opportunities that are available to the public. However, one of the reasons for lack of participation, at least for youths between 15 and 18 years of age, appears to be fear.
In conversations with several students at high school, as well as in work places, one often hears that they don't pursue volunteer opportunities because they are worried that the people they will be providing assistance to may be difficult to deal with due to substance abuse, psychiatric problems or dementia related to old age. However, after spending time assisting people, volunteers may find that these people are easy to talk to and may share common interests.
Volunteering is like many other things people fear before trying for the first time: it can be fun, open one’s eyes to new people and experiences, and even help one learn more about oneself. But it is impossible to know whether a particular volunteer activity will be enjoyable without trying it. One way to make it easier and potentially more enjoyable would be to volunteer with a friend or a group of people. Also, volunteering may be combined with things or places a person enjoys. For those who enjoy kids and being outdoors, volunteering at a camp may be ideal. Luckily, there are several different options available when it comes to volunteering, from working with the elderly, in a food bank or with animals. For example, simply searching the term “Volunteering in Winnipeg” produces more than a dozen results including everything from the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Assiniboine Park to the annual Winnipeg Folk Festival. Clearly, there are many people in Winnipeg requiring assistance from volunteers, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Youths who can acknowledge and overcome their fear stand to gain much by participating in volunteer activities.
Volunteering can be such a rewarding experience. One shouldn’t let fear get in the way of helping others and realizing the benefits of volunteering at the same time.