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Helping New Brunswickers Know the Law

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December 1, 2010

Becoming a Volunteer – Promoting Awareness Among Seniors

Public Legal Education and information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) has been awarded Community Participation and Leadership funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program to develop a project that promotes the value of seniors to the community and the benefits to seniors of being active and involved in the community, particularly as volunteers.

The objectives of this project are to provide information to seniors on the roles and responsibilities of volunteers, while helpings individuals to identify and value their skills, life experiences and talents and explore the ways that they can benefit the community.  PLEIS-NB will be consulting and working with an Advisory Committee of volunteer sector agencies, as well as the Community and Non-Profit Secretariat, the NB Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat, and a range of seniors orgnaizations such as the Go Ahead Seniors, the NB Seniors Federation, and various Golden Age Clubs around the province.

Having recently developed resources for staff, volunteers and boards of non-profit and charitable organizations, PLEIS-NB dsicovered that many people are reluctant to volunteer because they are unsure what would be expected of them. They may wonder whether they have the necessary skills to contribute. And some are concerned about the legal risks and responsibilities of becoming volunteers.

This project will involve offering a number of training sessions and developing tools that will help seniors to audit and assess their skills and interests. This will be followed by a “Volunteer Fair” where the participants can learn about the services and programs in their community, the role of volunteers and how their own interests might match up.  These events will facilitate connections to various organizations with volunteer opportunities that are suited to identified skills, availability and interests.  The project is based on the premis that individuals who are better informed about volunteering, recogonize the value of their skills, and are aware of volunteer opportunities will be more likely to get involved. This creates a win-win situation for everyone since communities will benefit from the wealth of skills and talents that senior volunteers can bring to an organization.  Encouraging seniors to become involved in community groups and activities will help to reduce social isolation of older adults.