Personal Best: Volunteer work can help restore purpose

For many seniors, retirement can mean a lack of purpose and meaning in their lives; Pat Black offers suggestions for volunteer opportunities

One of the many aspects of ageing and retirement is that we sometimes feel we no longer are of value or have a meaningful purpose in life. On one hand it is wonderful to feel we can come and go as we please, or do what we want when we want to do it, but having a lack of purpose can also provoke some emotional responses of depression and malaise, a dissatisfaction with who we are now and who we once were. It is something we all have to work out but one avenue to explore is becoming a volunteer with one of the many valued and valuable organizations in this community.

Last week I got a call from Bobbe MacKenzie from the Upper Room Mission in Vernon asking if I could help them find seniors to volunteer at the Mission. She also wanted me to remind all seniors of the many benefits they receive from taking on any volunteer job no matter what age you are. It restores our feelings of worthiness, of purpose, of usefulness and self respect while giving a hand up to someone who can really use it at this time.

The Upper Room Mission works with people who are down on their luck, by providing a safe, respectful place and by helping them to find the right resources to change their lives if they wish to do so, and many people have turned their lives around. Also the Mission would not be here and so successful if it were not for the volunteers who make up 90 per cent of the workforce. If you are interested or want more information call 250-549-1231 or check out their Web site at

If the Mission doesn’t appeal to you as a place to volunteer there are many other organizations that need seniors to help out and you can find your place in one of them. All you have to do is call the Vernon and District Volunteer Bureau and talk to them at 250-545-0585 or check out their Web site at By helping others we really do help ourselves.

The Meals-on-Wheels program is now up and running at the Schubert Centre, with more than 45 people using this service. Fresh meals consisting of soup or salad, entrée and dessert are delivered to those who are on limited income or have disability issues, three times a week for $6 per meal.

This is a great service and badly needed since Interior Health cut this program a few years ago. Kudos to the Schubert Centre and all the volunteers involved. Phone the Schubert Centre to find out more at 250-549-4201.

On Oct. 1, the North Okanagan Hospice Society will host an important free session at Schubert Centre from 6:30 p.m. to  9 p.m. dealing with that “big elephant in the room” of all seniors — approaching the end of our days and how we want to deal with this.

The session, Advance Care Planning: the importance of having the difficult conversations, will be conducted by Elizabeth Causton, MSW, who has worked in this field for more than 40 years, with 14 of those years spent as a  clinical counselor on the community crisis team at Victoria Hospice.

As most of us seniors know this is a difficult subject to deal with and how to talk about it to family members and others is often a struggle. This is an opportunity for you and your family and friends to learn how to face these issues and deal with them from an experienced counselor.

The event is free but you need to register by calling Kelli Sullivan at 250-503-1800, local 104, or register online at

If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at or call 250-542-7928.

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.