Search on for outstanding senior volunteers

You’ll likely find them around every corner: senior volunteers who make a difference each day in hospitals, community organizations, neighbourhoods and senior centres. In total, these unsung heroes are making a bigger impact than ever as budgets remain flat and community needs escalate. Now, here’s your chance to honour their efforts.

The Home Instead Senior Care® network has launched the Salute to Senior Service public education program to honour the many volunteer contributions that older adults make in the community. The award program includes a search for the most outstanding senior volunteer in each province and culminates with the selection of a national winner during Seniors Month in June. In addition to showcasing senior volunteers, the program features important information about the benefits of volunteerism from the Home Instead Senior Care network.

Salute to Senior Service nominees must be 65 or older, and volunteer at least 15 hours a month, making a positive impact on their communities through volunteerism. Nominations are now being accepted and can be submitted at until March 15, 2012. Nomination forms are available online or by going into a local Home Instead Senior Care office.

Provincial Senior HeroSM winners will receive plaques and their stories on the website. What’s more, $5,000 will be donated to the national winner’s non-profit charity of choice.

“Helping others defines life for many retired seniors,” said Jack Voykin, of Home Instead Senior Care in Vancouver. “And what a difference we have observed in seniors’ health, attitude and outlook among those who choose to stay active as they age.”

The Salute to Senior Service award program came about as a result of a national research study conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network in Canada. Four hundred senior volunteers were interviewed to measure their impact on the local community, and to better understand what motivated them to volunteer. The telephone interviews were conducted with seniors age 65 and older who volunteer their time through unpaid community service. The sampling error is +/- 4.9 per cent at a 95 per cent  confidence level.

According to the study, 47 per cent of seniors volunteer their time through unpaid community service, and 21 per cent of the senior volunteers volunteer in hospitals and health care organizations. Furthermore, they donate an average of 16.5 hours per month. Ninety-eight per cent of seniors who volunteer say that their volunteer work is important in comparison to other things they do in their lives.

“Another interesting finding from the research is that nearly three out of five senior volunteers say they volunteer more now because the need is greater as a result of the economy,” says Voykin. “Seniors are obviously a very giving group. They also do so for their own health.”

The study found that 86 percent of senior volunteers who suffer from chronic health conditions say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage their health problems. Indeed, 93 per cent of those who responded to the survey said that seniors who volunteer are healthier and happier than seniors who don’t volunteer.

“There is an important link between healthy aging and volunteering,” says Jean-Guy Soulière, Chair of the National Seniors Council. “Seniors volunteer more than any other age group. You just can’t put a dollar figure on how much seniors who volunteer contribute to the country. But I can tell you that a lot of organizations would die if not for those volunteers. And let’s not forget that a lot of people who do things like caring for other family members don’t consider that to be volunteering, but it is.”

According to the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, although the likelihood of volunteering tended to decrease with age, the actual number of hours devoted to volunteer work increased with age. Seniors 65 and older gave more hours to volunteering than any other age group, with an average of 218 hours a year, compared with 138 hours a year for people aged 15 to 24.

“The Salute to Seniors Service award program helps communities redefine aging,” said Voykin, of Home Instead Senior Care. “Every day we see seniors who still have so much to give, not only to their communities but to their families and loved ones.”

To nominate a senior volunteer or for more information about the Salute to Senior Service public education program, go to or call Home Instead Senior Care at 1-866-996-1087.