By Francine Van, Guest Contributor
I took note of the definition of ‘workers’ vs. the definition of ‘volunteers’ in the dictionary. While a worker is one who works for another for wages or a salary, a volunteer is someone who does work without being paid for it, because they want to do it. The vision of volunteer vs. worker appears blurred as I search volunteer opportunities. Leaving one position, I learned it was refilled with an employee, and I realized the balance required for companies. I do not want to hinder employment for someone on unemployment.
Non-profit and charity businesses further distort this criteria. Their volunteer opportunities can take lengthy training, require commitment for duration of time, have schedules to report, and track you like an employee. These openings are hidden jobs. If you are seeking a non-paying position you can most definitely find one.
I find numerous volunteers actively engaged in various activities and wonder if the market is over saturated with these helpers. The baby boomers are bored and the students flood the remainder of the market with their required community service hours to graduate or obtain work. I will gladly give up my service to help our younger generation get hired. Some will not. Some will even protect and discourage other volunteers.
On the flip side, I find some activities in my volunteer gig as “make work projects” to keep us busy for a shift, not contributing to the cause, and I find this annoying. I want to give my time to contribute to the betterment of a giving society that helps those in need. Period.
I am not there to take a job. I am not there because I have nothing else to do.
I continue as a student of life and hope to offer some wisdom on occasion through my experiences. I look after grandchildren, I look after my mom in care at a long term residence, I look after friends who are recovering from surgeries or fighting depression at this stage of life, and I find myself overwhelmed at times. I am realizing I have become involved in many unpaid jobs and wonder where all that free retirement time has gone.
Be careful, perhaps you are already volunteering and do not realize it. I needed a week off to get a rest and write this story.
NOTE – Refer an earlier blog on volunteerism and seniors at this link: