Rural Older Volunteers & The COVID-19 Pandemic
Publication Date: June 2021
Published By: Rural Aging Research Program, Trent University
Description: During large-scale global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to understand the experiences of those living and working within it. A study from Trent University’s Rural Aging Research Program, Rural Older Volunteers and the COVID-19 Pandemic examined the experiences of older volunteers from three volunteer-based programs in Selwyn Township, representing a diverse set of rural services (Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield, Selwyn Fire Department and Selwyn Public Library). Between June and September 2020, the study conducted telephone and/or Zoom interviews with 34 volunteers and administrators across the three programs to determine what it was like to volunteer during the first wave of the pandemic. Our key findings revealed 1) the vulnerability and resiliency of older volunteers, and 2) the adaptability and uncertainty of volunteer programs. Insights from this project provided a way to understand how to establish personal, program and community dimensions of sustainable rural aging during the COVID-19 pandemic.