20 older adults were asked...what advice they would give about aging, volunteering, and giving back to their community?


This project was created by The Waterloo Regional Age Friendly Committee to commemorate National Senior's Day on October 1st.


(We wanted to share because three of our residents from Luther Village on the Park were featured! Jane. G, Stephanie. V, & Werner & Edith. K)

large and small pin wheels side by side with blue sky background

Barry H.

(lives in the Cambridge area)

If a young person sat with a senior, you could fill ten books: there are so many stories and so much history. I am from an era where we only had radio, and we did not know we were poor, and all I have is great memories from that time.


There is a lot of misinformation about older adults today. It is important to advocate for our group, and it is amazing when you can make things happen through connecting with others.


Whatever age you are at, enjoy it because it’s going to change. Respect people of all ages. We will all be [or have been] these ages sooner or later. Be nice to people.


Beverly S.

(lives in the Waterloo area)

The professional reading that I’ve done about volunteering speaks about the benefits for self. Volunteering serves each [person] so well! The friendships you make while working together are wonderful. It brings people together – working hard toward a common goal – and the best part is that you have fun doing it.


Age is just what I am. I am all the ages I have ever been: I am 16 and 2 and 39 and 60 all at the same time.


Brenda, 80.

(Chartwell Communities, Waterloo Region)

You need to know the history of the community and learn about the activities that take place so that you can partake. My advice to a younger generation: Be a learner and pass that learning onto someone else.


Chandrika A.

(lives within the Waterloo area)

Volunteering doesn’t require a large time commitment; it requires heart and a passion for sharing your knowledge. Start volunteering, meeting other people, listening to their experiences. It is not only rewarding, but it can shift your perspective.


Ageing is a privilege. Make the most of it.


Donna R.

(lives within the Cambridge area - City Counselor for City of Cambridge)

People should have goals in their lives. Call it a goal or a dream, whatever it is. I have always had goals and dreams that I have wanted to accomplish. You can reach those things when you set them. This is the approach that I took rather than just letting things happen to me.


Find that thing that you enjoy, and get involved and get right in there. Be a part of it all. It makes a better community, and makes us all happier.


Age is going through each stage [of your life]. When you get to be the age I am, there is a lot of freedom. Not everyone is as fortunate, but being financially secure, this freedom to get to do whatever I want to do is great. It is a freeing stage in my life.


Dorothy, 85.

(Chartwell Communities, Waterloo Region)

Even before I was an elderly person, I learned not to hold grudges and bitterness in my heart. 


My advice to a younger generation: Practice being content with what you have. This avoids grumbling. Even though I go through heartaches and sorrow, I have the presence and constant help of God in my life. He makes all this possible for us through our relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is up to us to accept this gift.


Fred G, 85.

(Chartwell Communities, Waterloo Region)

It is important to be involved and help out your community. It will also make you feel good because keeping busy is what makes life fun. People need to stay active or it gets very difficult when you are old. Get used to taking care of your health. Find a group of friends/people to do stuff/stay active with.


Jacqueline H.

(Schlegel Village, University Gates)

Life goes very fast. You need you enjoy each day and stay active – that means live for the moment rather than thinking only about the future and missing the present. Make the time to do the things you love.


When you age, you have more time for those things because you know there is less time overall, so you do not want to waste it. Do that when you are young. Also, engage in local arts and culture, because they are what bring people together and make community.


Jane G.

(Luther Village on the Park, Waterloo)

Jane has been volunteering her entire adult life. She is in her seventies.


It is absolutely true that you get more from volunteering than you give.  Volunteering ticks all the boxes for healthy ageing. You meet new people, learn new skills and remain active while contributing to your community.


There are endless opportunities and levels of participation. I urge anyone who is thinking of trying it out to do just that.  The easiest way is to think of things you like to do and how much time you would like to spend.  Options include schools, hospitals, service clubs, not-for-profits, community organizations, recreational activities and so many more.  So get out there, have fun and make a difference!


Janet H.

(lives within the Waterloo area - City of Waterloo Senior of the Year 2020)

Janet’s kind of volunteerism is life altering, and extremely gratifying. At 72 years old, Janet has been involved with the immigrant community for more than 15 years. The respect that she has earned has come from hours of relationship-building, and the friendships that she has made are long-lasting.


As people retire, they need to find something where they can be involved. Janet’s life has been enriched by her volunteerism, and the rewards of meeting the needs of a vulnerable population. The thanks, smiles and trust from her friends in the immigrant community are reward enough.


Janet said that energy comes when you’re living your passion. Age is less important than sharing the wisdom that comes from experience. Being active and contributing in concrete ways to the lives of others makes questions of age irrelevant. She related the story of two young women in this community who had been victims of domestic violence. When Janet realized that the women were younger than her own adult children, her concern was intensified. Such feelings have nothing to do with age but everything to do with humanity.


Jean H.

(lives in the Waterloo area - City of Waterloo Senior of the Year 2019)

Be a volunteer at some time in your life. It is extremely rewarding. It is a great way to meet people and it is wonderful to interact with all age groups. You learn a great deal.


I have found that young people interact extremely well with older adults. You can learn so much from their lived experiences.


Age is only a number. I am a lucky senior because I can do many things at my age.


Margaret B.

(Schlegel Villages, University Gates)

Be apart of the community and work together, keep active and get to know people. Treat others like they would like to be treated!


Margaretha W, 100.

(Chartwell Communities, Waterloo Region)

It is important to keep active and keep learning and trying new things to keep your body and mind in good shape. Don't sit around at home too much.


Marion L.

(Schlegel Villages, University Gates)

Make the world a better place. That is the most important point I want to make. Find a way to do it regardless of what is happening. Because of this virus, there is fragmentation of culture. Younger generations are not allowed to be a part of groups in the same way as before. So I would say do not stop forming groups. We cannot stop building groups because of the pandemic, or we will enter a vacuum with no one able to connect. When you gather, you empower and energize each other, so important things cannot happen if we are separated. We cannot change the world alone.


Ageing makes you think about what is important to you. Older generations are concerned about growing old and being alone (and being poor so save your money!), but that’s where community comes in again. We must support each other, and if you don’t learn how to do that when you are younger, you will be alone as seniors. Loving, forgiving, energizing, give and take; these are the things you learn when in groups.

Lastly – do not take your body for granted. Use it. Walk, keep functioning.


Marlo S.

(Schlegel Villages, University Gates)

Keep active and stay away from the TV. Try and meet new people and be social.


Mike, 86.

(Chartwell Communities, Waterloo Region)

I was involved in sports and it allowed me to get to know my neighbours and gave me a wider perspective. My advice to younger generations: Be kind to each other and acknowledge differences. Respect their values and opinions and see them as their own.


Shaku A.

(lives in the Waterloo area)

On volunteering: Don’t waste your time. Pick up a hobby and make sure you are doing something that will help somebody. Choose something that brings you pleasure and puts a smile on your face. A smile is a universal language: we all need to smile more.

Age is just a number to me.


Stephanie V.

(Luther Village on the Park, Waterloo)

Many of us grew up with the concept of volunteering as an integral part of our understanding of “community” and “society”.  As seniors, we retain all those lived experiences and many of us continue to participate as part of our normal living. 


Why is this so important?  For the community, the services offered as a volunteer greatly expand the possibilities for an organization and directly affect people in the community.  For the person who is volunteering, helping out in the community has a host of benefits: mental stimulation, physical activity, social interaction, all of which increase our sense of well-being and increase our world view.


Starting early to give back to the community is an important part of your social, physical, political and moral life as you go forward into the future. We all need to build relationships throughout our lives, starting as a young person, in order to appreciate the benefits of them when one becomes older. Community relationships are built over lifetimes!  Communities need volunteers who serve from youth to senior years.


Sue M.

(lives in the Waterloo area)

When people retire and find that they have time on their hands, they need to find something in the community that interests them. What can they do to help? To teach? To lead? To advocate for? Volunteerism, according to Sue Morgan, enlarges one’s daily life. In an article in the KW Record from July 2012, Sue said, “Volunteering is like eating peanuts. You can never just take one. You have to take a whole handful.”


Sue said that she doesn’t think about age. At almost 81 years old, she has been and continues to be busy with her accessibility projects designed to enhance the life of others.


Werner and Edith K.

(Luther Village on the Park, Waterloo)

Edith’s volunteering actually started when she was about 17 and a member of the Schwaben Youth Group.


For many years, Werner and I belonged to the German Hunting and Fishing Club. Our volunteering there actually began before we became members. Often, we were working beside youth and others who were younger than ourselves, and during that time we talked with each other. It is great to interact with various age groups to discuss relevant topics and stay up with the trends and changes in their and our environment. Working together with youth helps us both learn from each other.

With thoughtfulness and sincerity, their ideas on what makes an active, fulfilling life are worth taking to heart. Serving one’s community is a major part of the recipe. And fretting about getting older was not on anyone’s agenda.


for more information visit The City of Waterloo's Website