Spare an hour or more?

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Sometimes, I wish I was retired.

Of course, I don’t want to speed up my aging process. In fact, I’d like to slow it down. Like many, I’d sign up for the Benjamin Button program – he of reversed aging – going from old to young rather than the other way around.

But I digress. I guess that’s what aging does to a person.

While I like the money that comes with full-time work, I don’t like the trade-off of lack of time and energy.

You see, I’d really like to volunteer more. However, the hours spent on my craft make it prohibitive. The other tricky thing is, because I am a journalist, I have to be careful of appearing to be too close to any non-profits, or charities, lest I be accused of bias.

At the moment, I’m not really doing much, other than the public service that some say small-town reporters and photographers do.

The only ‘volunteer’ shift I have put in so far this year is a bit of time at the Minden Cat Angels. After interviewing founder Don Kerr a few years back, and seeing what he was doing with such a small team of helpers, I couldn’t hold back.

The gig is not onerous. I did not have to go through oodles of training. Really, all I have to do is let Don know I am coming. Usually that means a Friday visit for an hour or so. All Don ever wants me to do is socialize kittens, to get them familiar with people, so there is a chance of adopting them out.

This I can do. I get to sit on the floor and try to coax kittens to come out and play. How hard is that? Even though I don’t have much time – well hardly any – an hour here and there is appreciated by the cats and Don. And when I see that a kitten has been adopted, I feel a sense of satisfaction.

When I retire, I plan to do a whole lot more volunteering. For now, I’ll do what I can. An hour here. An hour there. It helps me, and my mental health, as much as it does the Minden Cat Angels and Don.

As we celebrate national volunteer work, I do worry about the future of volunteering in Haliburton County, and across Canada.

Volunteer Canada put out some sobering recent stats; including that more than 55 per cent of charities have fewer volunteers than before COVID. More than 41 per cent are highly concerned about attracting volunteers. Forty-two per cent are highly concerned about volunteer burnout.

Since the pandemic, the numbers are even worse with a 74 per cent increase in demand for non-profit services in 2022; 67 per cent of volunteer organizations running short on volunteers; 51 per cent struggling to retain volunteers; and 42 per cent struggling in securing long-term volunteer roles.

In Haliburton County, where volunteerism is our lifeblood, this is a very worrying trend indeed.

If you have any free time, be it an hour a week, or much more, we’d encourage you to go to the volunteer fair in Minden May 1 and keep your eye out for other opportunities.

Your time is desperately needed and will be exceedingly appreciated. And don’t forget, it can be just as good for you as the charity or non-profit you are helping.