Rural Older Volunteers and the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Trent University
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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. The 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.

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