3 min read
16 April 2024

“There is no downside to volunteering” says long-time WoodGreen volunteer

Susan Fuehr, Communications Consultant

Newton’s First Law of Motion – that an object in motion stays in motion – could have been written about WoodGreen volunteer Barb McCutcheon.

After 32 years as a manager in corporate Canada, she could have settled into relaxed retirement. But that’s not Barb.

“You know, I can't even remember a third of all the stuff I've volunteered with at WoodGreen,” she laughs.

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Initially, Barb and her wife, Rachelle, just wanted to help out with a local Christmas bazaar. That snowballed into 15 years as part of WoodGreen’s army of volunteers.

Volunteers follow their interests

At age 69, Barb has spent more than a decade on WoodGreen’s Senior Advisory Council, serving the last three years as council co-chair. Over the years she has run the Rainbow Club for seniors from the LGBTQ community, taught a course for seniors called “I’m Retired, Now What?”, run the “Let’s Talk Movies” club for fans of films as well as a writing club for seniors.

a woman with grey hair and red classes gives a statment about being a volunteer at WoodGreen

Recently she’s helped create a documentary marking 20 years since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada, and is currently developing a podcast that will be created by seniors about seniors and the issues that matter to them.

“As a volunteer, the best part is you can pick things you're passionate about,” she says.

Barb grew up in East York and continues to live in the area.

“This is my home. This is my community. Keeping my community strong and vibrant is really, really important to me.”

Building real friendships in senior years

But she admits that when she started volunteering with WoodGreen at age 55, she didn’t expect that giving her time freely would pay off in the ways it has.

“I never would have anticipated that there is this community of people who have had the most amazing lives and that, as a result of meeting such incredibly interesting people through volunteering, you are able to form really good, true, lasting friendships with people you can count on.”

When you’re younger and still working, Barb says that networking mostly has to do with cultivating your work and professional life.

“But as you get older, that network helps you with the things that you feel passionately about.”

WoodGreen appreciates volunteers

Barb says she continues to donate her time and energy to WoodGreen after 15 years because of the appreciation and respect she says the organization continues to show for its volunteers. At a recent Volunteer Appreciation Event, several of WoodGreen’s long-term volunteers like Barb received service awards for their remarkable volunteer efforts.

a woman with red hair wearing a black blazer and white shirt shakes hands in a crowd of volunteers

“It's that feeling that you're doing something that you can be proud of. And WoodGreen, in particular, has so many types of things you can volunteer to do.”

“You’re good with numbers? Volunteer at the income tax clinic! Like to drive? Help out with Meals on Wheels!”

Advice for new volunteers

As Canada begins to grasp the valuable role volunteers play in organizations, particularly those in the non-profit sector, the more charities are vying for those who can donate their time and skills.

Barb’s advice to anyone who wants to begin volunteering?

“There’s so many wonderful organizations out there. Just find something that appeals to you in some way and just volunteer your skills.

There is no downside to volunteering. Because you just meet so many wonderful people who are passionate about giving back to their communities. And you make friends.”

♦See our volunteer opportunities.♦


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