We could all use a boost of positivity these days, and, according to new research, you may be able to find it by volunteering and giving back to your community. The study commissioned by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) as part of the launch of its Real Heart initiative, found that 63% of Ontarians report feeling generally less happy because of COVID-19. However, when asked about volunteering, a majority of Ontarians said volunteering makes them feel they are contributing to something important (70%), provides a feeling of purpose (55%), and a sense of community (54%). Volunteers also reported feeling happier (34%), forming new relationships (28%), and learning new skills (25%) as benefits of volunteering.
Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has made volunteering in-person difficult:
74% of Ontarians said they volunteered prior to COVID-19. Since COVID-19, only 26% of Ontarians report that they have been volunteering. Nonetheless, the desire to volunteer is strong, with 37% of Ontarians reporting they want to know more about virtual volunteer opportunities.
“By coming together and supporting causes they are passionate about, volunteers help to build happier, healthier and more resilient communities,” said OREA President, David Oikle. “I have seen the impact of volunteering first-hand in the work we do with the Ontario REALTORS Care® Foundation, supporting hundreds of shelter-based charities across Ontario annually. But we can always do more. This is why we developed the Real Heart initiative. Sometimes, the best motivator for becoming a volunteer and doing something great, is seeing the possibilities through someone else’s experience.”
Launching during National Volunteer Week, the Real Heart initiative tells the stories of volunteers who have made a difference in their communities, in hopes of inspiring others to find a cause they are passionate about. The initiative is supported by Real Heart Ambassadors who are highly engaged and committed volunteers:
- Bruce Johnson, RE/MAX of Wasaga Beach: Founder of Motorcycles for Miracles and the Alyssa Rae Johnson Foundation, which has raised over $700,000 in support of the Children’s Miracle Network and SickKids Hospital.
- Lindsey Edwards, Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty, Cobourg: Creator of the “Flocked 4 Shelter” fundraiser, past participant in the Sahara Desert Trek and current participant in the upcoming Purcell Mountain Challenge for Shelter. Lindsey has raised almost $60,000 in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, which directly benefits the Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre
- Vince Mirabelli, RE/MAX First Choice Realty, Thunder Bay: Founding Chair of the “Save A Heart Ball” which has raised over $1 million towards cardiac care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). Since starting a Pediatric Fund in 2009, Vince has raised nearly $150,000 for pediatric services at TBRHSC.
“I’m honoured and proud to be a Real Heart Ambassador,” said Bruce Johnson. “My hope is that Real Heart will inspire others to find a cause dear to them and support it in any way they can. My life mission of giving back came out of a dark time when Alyssa, our firstborn, passed away in our arms at SickKids Hospital in Toronto at 20 days old. This experience led to starting the Alyssa Rae Johnson Foundation at SickKids in her memory. As an Ambassador, I’m proud to share my story but, more importantly, to help others become community champions.”
To read Bruce’s story and stories of other community leaders, or to submit your own Real Heart story, visit www.RealHeart.ca.