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Activate Seniors! Community Innovation Hub Kit Profile

Elderly woman sits at a cafe table. Activate Seniors!
Photo by Brett Sayles on

Seniors across Canada and America use their skills, knowledge, experience to give back to their communities everyday. We can see examples everywhere of seniors running social enterprises and small businesses, and providing non-profits and charities with volunteer power.

The Community Innovation Hub has created an Activate Seniors! Kit for communities and organizations wanting to build a volunteer base of seniors. A senior is a person who is 55 years old or older.


Seniors work hard to improve their communities for a variety of reasons:

  • Socially Beneficial: Volunteering at events at local religious institutions, parks, and museums is a great way to interact with a wide range of community members.
  • Good for Mental Cognition: Volunteering provides opportunities to keep conversation flowing, stimulate the brain, and keep overall cognitive functioning sharp and optimized. 
  • To Give Back To The Community: Volunteering lets people of all ages and backgrounds make a positive impact on their community.
  • Physically Engaging: Many volunteer commitments help people get exercise and stay in shape. Whether it’s such campaigning door-to-door for candidates during elections, helping build community gardens, or shoveling show, physical activity is a vital part of everyone’s life!
  • Educational: Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills that employment wouldn’t permit.
  • Flexible Way to Spend Time: Volunteering gets people out of the house a couple times a week and participating in community life, on the person’s preferred schedule.

Volunteering gives seniors something to look forward to and opportunities for organizations to increase the diversity of age groups, backgrounds, skills, and life experience involved in their governance and activities.

Senior Volunteering – Case Study

After losing her husband on Christmas to prolonged illness on Christmas Day, an elderly woman realized that she’d also lost her full-time job as his caregiver. She’d had time for nothing else for almost a year. What would she do now?

While she was grieving, the thought of taking on anything else was too much. But eventually she felt that she wanted to do something with her time – get out and meet and meet some people and get involved in her community. A former nursing teacher at Ryerson University, the idea of volunteering appealed to her, and she began to look for opportunities to put her skills to use.

10 Best Volunteer Activities in Retirement

Finding Senior Volunteers

Organizations that are seeking senior volunteers might want to approach these resources in their area:

  • Seniors’ communities such as Swan Lake Village
  • Seniors’ clubs
  • College or university alumnae groups
  • Pension groups (from corporate HR departments, government, non-profits, charities, academic institutions)
  • Senior volunteer groups and service clubs
  • Adult (children of seniors) referral groups
  • Professionals such as accountants, lawyers, or doctors. Many individuals who lose a spouse have incredible difficulties dealing with legal, financial and administrative tasks that face regards to the estate. Volunteers could provide priceless support.

Ways to reach out to these groups include:

  • Design e-flyers: Distribute to above groups and for communities of faith to include in their bulletins, web sites, posters
  • Write articles: Submit to above groups and local media. Have on-line and hard copy available for newsletters, magazines, newspapers, web sites, social media.
  • Use opportunities for no cost advertising: Do presentations in person and on-line, run workshops on diaries/journals, video diaries, conduct diaries/journals and video diaries with grandparents and parents, siblings, cousins

How We Can Help

The Community Innovation Hub Activate Seniors! Kit provides details on how to develop and implement a plan to get the seniors in your community involved and engaged. We include the Activate Seniors! Kit with our One-Year Membership (as well as access to all our other Kits) along with support to put your plans into action. A yearly membership is just $100.

For more information about becoming a Community Innovation Hub Member, visit our website, email us at, or leave us a comment on this post. Looking forward to hearing from you!


Podcast Profile: Ed Champion

A man holds house keys in one hand and a small model house in the other. Ed Champion

Former Chief of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation Ed Champion is taking steps to address the long-standing lack of affordable housing Canada’s Indigenous people. Champion identifies housing as the foundation of flourishing communities, but families on reserves often live in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions.

Champion put the the technology and team in place to make a huge difference by printing 3D printable affordable dome houses which can be set up quickly at affordable prices. His company, Smart Villages, was ready to pilot the technology in three reserves, with the hope of expanding to more, when Peter Miller interviewed him for The Giveback Podcast in late 2019 and the Board of the Directors was seeking $500 000 to get the venture off the ground. Financial, volunteer, and in-kind support can help to get and keep programs like this going, and every little bit helps.

Building Community

The use of dome-building technology helps with the vital, ongoing process of building thriving Indigenous communities that are firmly grounded in their unique cultures, histories, and languages by providing:

  • A means to build affordable structures for housing, organizations, and businesses.
  • Short- and long-term rebuilding options to aid in disaster management (flood, fire, weather.)
  • A way to save costs for both government and residents
  • A way to create jobs and opportunities for cultural learning.
  • A chance for the community to give back and create change.

Building strong communities is the ultimate goal.

Learn More About Ed Champion

Check out the Peter Miller’s interview with Ed Champion to learn more. The podcast episode also includes an interview with Steven Jackson of the Anishnabeg Outreach and Employment Training Centre about creating community and positive social change for Indigenous people through wellness and healing initiatives. Listen on the podcast websiteGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify .

Please feel free to leave comments, questions, and requests for direct contact with Ed or Steven in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think!

Giving Back to Your Neighbourhood with Random Acts of Kindness!

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

Diana, Princess of Wales

A small act of kindness can be a huge act of giving back to your community! Acts of kindness build communities by:

  • Promoting positive interactions between community members
  • Supporting growth
  • Giving all community members a chance to make their neighbourhoods and communities better places to live!

People from all demographic groups can use random acts of kindness to cultivate neighbourliness and give back to their communities. Amplify your efforts by connecting with your neighbours to brainstorm ideas and do them together! You can post and share these ideas through connectors like Nextdoor so that other communities can see them and try them. We’ll all build stronger communities by giving back together, one act of kindness at a time!

Remember: Princess Diana also said, “Carry out.” Don’t just come up with ideas, make them happen!

For Example…

Here are some ways that people are using kindness to change their communities:

  • When a fire in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Francis Drake hotel broke out on Christmas Morning in 2019, agencies immediately started working together to provide food, shelter, and help to find a new place to live for the over 250 people who had lost their space in the transitional living facility. Most of them were living at Francis Drake because there was no room for them in Hennepin County’s homeless shelter.
  • Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow used his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech to draw attention to the high poverty rate in his hometown of Athens, Ohio. As a result of his speech, over $500 000 was raised for the town’s food bank.
  • Toronto’s “Bread Man”, Weldon Eddie, and his wife Lorraine, pick up day-old bread from local bakeries and bring it to shelters and drop-in centres. They started this in 2007, and do it 7 days a week.

Random Acts of Kindness: Ideas

Do you need some ideas for powerful, compassionate acts of kindness to try? There are so many! Here are some to get you started on making a difference in your neighbourhood:

  • Hold garage events – a weekly coffee meetup once a week, health and wellness events, sports talks
  • Pay it forward at a coffee shop – leave extra money for those who can’t pay
  • Assist seniors – Phone call/friendly visits ; tech support over phone/computer; clean windows and/bbqs, rake leaves; clear snow
  • Welcome Wagon– Visit newcomers to welcome them and give them information on community
  • Community Garden – Build and care for a garden in a central community location where everyone can enjoy it
  • Arts on the Street– Sidewalk drawing and painting, outdoor music and music jams, amateur music night
  • Service Club projects – Guides/Scouts, Rotary, Lions, Habitat for Humanity, etc.

Leave your ideas in the comments section so that we can add them to the list!

Other Places to Get Ideas

16 Acts of Kindness That Will Bring a Smile to Your Face – A Reader’s Digest article about acts of kindness sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

101 Easy Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness – How many can you do in the remainder of 2020?

101 Ideas for Acts of Kindness – More acts of kindness.

103 Random Acts of Kindness – Even MORE acts of kindness!

134 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness – What?? More acts of Kindness?! YES!

Coffee Cups and Crayons 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge – This challenge ran officially in 2019, but can be started anytime. The site has all sorts of kindness-themed printables, including one listing 100 ideas for acts of kindness that are easy for kids for do.

How to Prepare Plastic Bags for Knit or Crochet – Take care of the environment while you knit or crochet something nice for yourself or someone else!

Random Acts – Conquering the world one random act of kindness at a time!

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation – Make kindness the norm!

The Kindness Offensive – Have fun, be kind, and inspire as many people as possible to do the same!

Fun Fact! National Random Act of Kindness Day is on February 17. It is celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.
In New Zealand, where this day originated, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated on
September 1st, and is also recognized by some on other days throughout the year.

But we can be kind every day of the year! How will you be kind today?

Relaunching the Blog

Daisies on a deck with "Welcome" written across the image.

Hello everyone! Happy August! We help that you’re all well and enjoying your summer.

Some of you may remember that we had a blog at one point. We’re relaunching it this month, hoping to make it a place where you can come for:

  • Updates on Community Innovation Hub events
  • Musings on community building, social innovation, and social enterprise
  • News about what we’ve got going on.

Please say hello in the comments section and let us know you stopped by!

In Community,

Peter, Carla, and Sarah