MIND-BODY-SPIRIT: Good time to do some volunteering

By: Dawn Ostrem

If ever there was a time to take up volunteering for a cause in Richmond County the time is now.

We live in a new world, one that is dealing the effects of an aging global population. The amount of money needed to care for the elderly will not continue to match what is gained through taxes of the working population. Yet we have abundant resources within the skills, knowledges and talents of our seniors.

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Seniors are ideally positioned to sew the social safety net for others, especially as it applies to well-being of our community members.

Communities and volunteers are beginning to step up. If there’s one thing Easterners know it is how to rally when things get hard. This has been sewn into the cultural tapestry that makes us who we are. The Antigonish movement: when farmers and fishermen were starving, they came up with Credit Unions and other co-operatives. When locals couldn’t get loved ones to a doctor and children were dying in L’Ardoise, a doctor was found and brought to town. Names like William Kingston and Moses Coady are still attached to just a few examples of community initiatives that brought about clear social change for the better. But, it was the community volunteers, who organized and rallied, that brought them in.

The MIND-BODY-SPIRIT Project’s main purpose is to carve the pathways for future programming, related to the well-being of seniors, that volunteers must now walk. Last week 21 people took part in music care training provided through the MIND-BODY-SPIRIT grant. From that a Facebook group – Richmond County Music Care – was created. These students, from a variety of backgrounds, will now take what they have learned and spread this cost-effective concept into the homes and institutions where seniors reside to make life, and the end of life, better for people. The benefits of the mood-enhancing power of music, while dealing with sickness and dying, are documented.

When volunteers are involved, this elevation in the status of care does not have to cost a thing. Music care training is an example of using the passions and interests of local volunteers – in this case music – in a way that benefits the senior population while providing meaningful volunteer opportunities beyond stacking chairs or forcing already busy parents into fundraising.

What is your passion? Sports, art, music, caring, books, finances, home repair, gardening, technology? The MIND-BODY-SPIRIT project, along with other projects and programs have ways to help you use your skills and passion as a way to find purpose, especially after retirement. The time is, indeed, now to help build the foundation for the well-being that will one day support you in ways traditional services no longer can.

Dawn Ostrem is project coordinator for the MIND-BODY-SPIRIT Project. She can be reached at: mindbodyspiritpc.dkmchc@gmail.com. The MIND-BODY-SPIRIT Project’s goal is to improve the quality of life for seniors in the Strait-Richmond area. It is entering its second phase of creating a framework for community-based, volunteer-led programming. The programming addresses key areas of mental health and addictions, with an emphasis on the proven connection between social relationships, and feelings of inclusiveness within community, that lead to better health. The MBS grant is administered by the Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre and is funded by Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Municipality of the County of Richmond.