Community Fifty–FivePublished on July 25, 2018

Christine Franklin Photo by: Mark Holleron

Christine Franklin has always been passionate about building stronger communities, and when she stepped back from full-time work and found herself with extra time on her hands, she knew immediately that she wanted to use that time to give back to Ottawa’s charitable sector.

Christine enjoyed a long and productive career in public policy, so it’s no surprise that her decision to give back involves an innovative approach that identifies a gap in the field of volunteerism. Sensing that there were too few short term, skills-based volunteer opportunities for people over the age of 55, Christine developed a website called Impact Hours that aims to change all of that.

“I want non-profits to be able to access, in one place, all of the wonderful skillsets and experience that the 55+ population brings to the table,” she explained. “It’s a unique combination that can make such a specific difference in our community.”

Christine believes that many people over the age of 55 who are empty-nesters, retired or working part time would happily donate to worthy causes, but they want that work to be both meaningful and flexible. “They want work that is on an hourly basis and clearly-scoped, rather than over the long-term,” she notes.

“Through Impact Hours, registered non-profits and charities create an account and post their targeted opportunities. Regular members of the public then browse the opportunities to find a match with their skill set and time availability, and click on that opportunity to apply,” explains Christine.

The application comes to Impact Hours and is forwarded to the non-profit, which is responsible for connecting with the potential volunteer. So far, Christine has about two dozen charities registered on her website, with some 40 available opportunities at any given time, and believes that her website may be a gateway to getting more people of all ages into volunteering.

“I want to support Ottawa becoming a more age-friendly and vibrant community,” she explains of her decision to shake up the way that people and community organizations think about volunteer hours.

“I’m passionate about community and the need to identify and address barriers that impact someone’s ability to engage, participate or contribute,” says Christine. “I feel that Impact Hours gives older adults the opportunity to have meaningful interactions that benefit themselves, non-profits and the wider community,” she concludes, proving that making a difference in this city is only a click away.

Catherine Clark

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