Keeping happy and healthy through online volunteer engagement

“It is a known fact that retirees and older people are a vital resource for societies. We only need to find ways to tap into their life experience and talents... Online volunteering is one way of doing that.

Retirees have left behind their work place but not their professional and human talents. They want to remain engaged and to be useful in one way or another.”

Anne-Marie Bekaert became an UN Online Volunteer two years ago, just after retiring. “I wanted to keep in touch with my former colleagues from the Online Volunteering service team and the work they do”, says Anne-Marie, who, prior to her retirement worked as Chief of Volunteer Recruitment at the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. Her first assignment was the translation of the Online Volunteering service booklet into French, and recently she took up the responsibility of editing the French translation of the newsletter. “As the editor of the French newsletter, my contribution is very modest. Still, I am happy to be of help... and to remain engaged in a project I consider of great value to society.” 

“It is a known fact that retirees and older people are a vital resource for societies. We only need to find ways to tap into their life experience and talents... Online volunteering is one way of doing that.”
-- Anne-Marie Bekaert, UN Online Volunteer

Born and raised in a small village in the north of France, Anne-Marie emigrated to Canada after finishing her university studies. Throughout her professional life, volunteerism was at the core of her work. As a young woman, she served as a volunteer in Haiti and Costa Rica, working with abandoned children.

Today as a retiree, Anne-Marie believes that it is important to facilitate the volunteer engagement of older people, “particularly in social and humanitarian work where the demand is unlimited and the resources are always too little. Retirees have left behind their work place but not their professional and human talents. They want to remain engaged and to be useful in one way or another. For a lot of them, it is a matter of life values. Moreover, scientific research in this regard indicates that volunteering plays an important role in keeping older people healthy.”