The benefits of volunteering for newcomers to Canada are many. Importantly, volunteer work can help you learn more about your local community. And, volunteering is an important part of Canadian culture.
Every day, Canadians donate their time, energy, and money to help certain causes that they feel strongly about. They give back to their communities, without expecting anything in return.
According to the recent Statistics Canada report, over 12.7 million Canadians volunteered their time in 2018. They contributed a total of 1.6 billion hours of their time. This is equivalent to almost 858,000 full-time jobs carried out throughout the year.
Because many of Canada’s non-profit and charitable organizations have limited budgets, they rely on volunteers to achieve their objectives. So volunteers play an essential role in local communities.
As a newcomer, you may find that you do not know a great many people once you arrive here. Making friends as an adult can be a little challenging for some. Especially when there are cultural differences to overcome. Volunteering can provide the backdrop to a comfortable and easy introduction to many like-minded people. This is a very popular way for both newcomers and Canadian born people to make friends. The best thing is to get yourself out there to talk to people and get to know fellow Canadians.
Get Started to Volunteer
There are a plethora of opportunities available that contribute to the benefits of volunteering. It can be confusing as to which organization you should volunteer for and in what capacity.
First, make a list of the skills you want to gain. Think about the causes you are interested in. Then, decide how much time you can set aside for volunteering.
Some examples of volunteer roles include:
- Raising awareness
- Organizing events
- Managing donations
- Planting trees
- Cleaning beaches
Some examples of causes include:
- Women’s rights
- Refugee welfare
- Environment, and many more.
Applying for a volunteer position is just like applying for a job. You will be asked to submit a resume, so have one ready. Depending on the focus area you are volunteering for, you might be asked to provide references. When working with vulnerable persons, you will have to undergo a background check.
Five Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering benefits the people you are helping and also benefits you. Here are some of the benefits of volunteering
1. Network with Others
Volunteering is a great way to socialize, meet new people, and make new friends. Even though you come from diverse backgrounds as other volunteers, you share a common passion for giving back to society. This helps you develop personal and professional relationships with other volunteers. Your volunteer activity will strengthen your ties to your local community and Canadian society.
2. Enhance Mental and Physical Health as a Benefit of Volunteering
When you help others and make a difference to society, you will feel good about yourself.
While volunteering, you are constantly interacting with other volunteers. This will help you develop a strong support system and combat depression and loneliness. Reduce your stress and anxiety by working with children and animals because they can instantly elevate your mood.
Whenever you find yourself stuck with nothing meaningful to look forward to, think about why you are volunteering. This will help you find your purpose in life. And volunteering can make you feel good knowing that you are helping others and showing that you care about your new community in Canada.
3. Volunteer as a Family Activity
Children can also benefit through volunteering. Children learn through observation. As a parent, you can be a good role model by showing your children how you are making a difference in society. Your children will learn compassionate and positive behaviour from you. This will motivate them to sign up as volunteers. Similarly, they will gain valuable Canadian work experience while they are studying.
Your children will also get a chance to interact with other volunteers. They will make new friends and this will make it easier for them to adapt to Canadian culture.
When you move to Canada, you might want to keep expenses low and have fun as a family. Volunteering as a family is a great way to spend quality time together without spending any money.
4. Advance Your Career as a Benefit of Volunteering
This might come as a surprise to you when some employers ask you for Canadian work experience or a Canadian portfolio of work. You might wonder, how can I gain Canadian work experience if nobody gives me a chance to work in Canada? This is the biggest benefit of volunteering for newcomers. You can gain work experience and build a Canadian work portfolio by volunteering.
While you are looking for a job in your field, volunteering experience on your resume will bridge the gaps and show activity. As well, you’ll stand out among other applicants as it demonstrates to employers that you’re interested in other things and causes.
In addition, if you want to learn a new skill, you can get your feet wet by volunteering. Some roles require that volunteers have certification like first-aid, CPR, etc. If this is within your area of interest, the non-profit organization may give you the resources to gain these certificates.
If you want to volunteer to gain Canadian work experience, it’s important to volunteer strategically. Think about what it is that you want to achieve to get the most out of your volunteer experience.
5. Improve Your Language Skills
If English or French is not your first language, you will get a chance to speak with volunteers in English or French. While interacting with other volunteers, your language and communication skills will improve. So you’ll also gain the confidence to speak with others and have a meaningful conversation.
Volunteering might be unheard of in several societies. However, in Canada, it is a way of life. Volunteering will be fun and rewarding and not another chore, as long as you enjoy doing what you do.
Now that you have learned more about the benefits of volunteering, you can find local volunteer opportunities, by visiting:
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Anjali has worked in journalism and corporate communications in the UK and in India. Working across geographies in an international environment has taught her to find unique opportunities to create content for a diverse range of audiences. Pushing herself out of her comfort zone to move to the UK and Canada helped her adapt and thrive in new environments.