Volunteering can help keep New Year's resolutions

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver

Volunteering for the BC SPCA to walk dogs is a great way to fulfill New Year's resolutions to increase physical activity. (FILE PHOTO)

Volunteering for the BC SPCA to walk dogs is a great way to fulfill New Year's resolutions to increase physical activity. (FILE PHOTO)

Gyms and lecture halls are full of people with good intentions to improve their lives each January, but like any other year the treadmills and classroom seats will be half empty by March. If you’re looking to get fit, meet new people, or save money this year, supplement your gym membership and student ID with a volunteer card to keep yourself accountable.

There are ample volunteer positions that require little more than sitting at a desk filtering through letters or donations, but there are many more that involve physical activities like walking dogs or stocking shelves. Popular not-for profits like the SPCA and Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society require weekly or monthly time commitments from dog walkers and warehouse volunteers so that they can better schedule their resources. The same requirements also make it harder for volunteers to renege on personal health goals to get moving on a regular basis.

Social resolutions to make new friends can be challenging since they depend on the efforts of other like-minded individuals, but joining community volunteer activities for causes that are important to you can help filter through the population to find potential friends with similar values and interests. Donating your time to a school club is another easy way to meet people with similar interests, and it has the added benefit of developing work-specific skills that look great on a résumé.

If your goal is to spend more time with people that are already in your social network but don’t have the funds to go out with them every night, spend time volunteering with them instead. Volunteering with friends is a free activity where your shared time gives back to the community you both live in. Having a regular volunteer schedule also makes it easy to align your timetables with one another.

To get started on your new resolutions, search sites like or for volunteer openings in the GVRD that fit your health, social, or financial goals. Some post-secondary schools also post volunteer opportunities on student portals which give preference to students within specific fields of study.

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