I attended the orientation session for Rotary Club of Minden volunteers for the S.G. Nesbitt arena COVID vaccination clinic.

According to Rotary, in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean Islands, 71 per cent of Rotarians are more than 50 years of age. Only 12 per cent are less than 40 years old.

The local Rotarians attending last week’s session included some people much older than 50. While I admire all of them, I do worry about the burden of potentially months of volunteer work to support the cause when they are a vulnerable demographic.

I can only hope their ranks have been, and will be, bolstered by volunteers of younger demographics in the days, weeks and months to come.

According to the Government of Canada, Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) and Matures (born between 1918 and 1945) are more likely to be top volunteers in Canada.

In 2018, Statistics Canada found Matures (40 per cent) and Baby Boomers (31 per cent) were more likely than iGen (born 1996 and later) – at 18 per cent – to be top volunteers.

StatsCan rationalizes that with many Baby Boomers struggling to keep businesses afloat, working from home, and in some cases caring for elderly parents, they likely have less time for volunteering during the pandemic.

At the same time Matures are among those at highest risk of COVID-19 and may be self-isolating.

So, the most dedicated unpaid workers in the charitable sector going into the pandemic are now among the most impacted by the current situation and in need of support themselves.

But StatsCan doesn’t know the mettle of the Rotary Clubs of Minden and Haliburton and the army of Baby Boomer and Mature volunteers in the Highlands. It is in some cases the busiest and most at-risk who are showing up to staff the clinics at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton and the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden.

However, their ranks should be bolstered by iGens, according to StatsCan. Although less likely than other generation to be top volunteers, they were involved in quite a bit of volunteer work going into the pandemic.

Further, as schools have transitioned to online learning and extra-curricular activities have been cancelled, some iGens may be in a better position to up their community contributions through formal volunteering.

They are actually known for more informal giving. The StatsCan paper said the informal volunteer rate for iGen (78 per cent) was actually higher than Baby Boomers (73 per cent) and Matures (58 per cent). This likely reflects different volunteertype preferences for younger versus older generations.

That informal volunteer includes things such as helping people outside of the household and community improvement not on behalf of a group or organization.

So, while it appears Baby Boomers, Matures and iGens are stepping up to the plate, The Highlander is putting out a challenge to others to step forward, including Millennials (those born 1981 to 1995) as well as GenXers (born 1966-1980) to help staff the clinics.

Each clinic will be running three days a week – Haliburton on Monday, Thursday and Sunday and Minden on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Haliburton clinic is also running on Fridays in at least its first two weeks.

Anyone can volunteer for the Haliburton clinic by contacting haliburtonrotary@ gmail.com. The Minden effort can be reached at volunteer@mindenrotary.ca or 705-286-4922. Shifts are four hours, with two blocks each day. People can only sign on up to two weeks in advance.

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