RTO/ERO Goodwill Workshop report to District 42

September 11, 2019
Kathy Bell

1. The Goodwill Workshop in Toronto was a wonderful opportunity to engage with other Goodwill reps from across Canada, including two new districts.  It’s interesting to hear about the commonalities we share, and to learn from the differences related to demographic and/or geographical situations. 
2. Speaking of cards, the sending of milestone event cards is a large part of the Goodwill reps’ tasks, although a concern expressed by many is the difficulty in keeping up with changing addresses etc.  Members are reminded to keep their contact information up to date with their local district.
Another reason to do so is the fact that the RTO/ERO encourages member-to-member support in times of crisis or bereavement.  Volunteer members will visit bereaved members or member spouses, or members who need social support, such as a friendly conversation. 
Indeed, the RTO/ERO has as one of its priorities the reduction of social isolation and loneliness among older Canadians, recognizing that these concerns can be the precursor to early death. The RTO Foundation has been funding initiatives geared towards researching and implementing best practices.  Members are encouraged to look out for the warning signs, such as withdrawal, hoarding, or sudden changes in habits, and to reach out to a peer who may need the connection and referral to helpful community resources.  Including such resource information in newsletters can help members know what is available if they wish to reach out themselves, too.
2. A morning session was devoted to three speakers, all lawyers involved in the writing of wills or litigation of estates. They gave many cases examples where people had thought they had their affairs in order, but in fact they did not because their wills were out of date or carelessly prepared.  The lawyers pointed out how commonly wills and estates are contested, noting that no will is “iron clad”, contrary to what people often think. As well, although discussing estate matters with one’s family can be emotional and often taboo, it is necessary to have things arranged well in advance, because waiting until “it’s too late” can have devastating results, even tearing families apart. 
Members are encouraged to seek legal advice to make sure their wills are in proper legal form, and have been updated to reflect major life events (births/divorces/deaths, purchase/loss of major assets, etc.).  When visiting other members who may bring up what they want after their passing, encourage them to seek legal advice to make sure the paperwork is lined up accordingly.  
Members are also encouraged to consider ahead of time a Representation Agreement (known as Power of Attorney for Personal Care in Ontario).  Talk with a lawyer to include your wishes regarding the health care decisions you want made on your behalf in case you are unable to speak.
Some other legal discussion took place regarding car insurance when driving another member to an event.  Do make sure your insurance provider will cover you in the case of an accident.

3. There was a presentation on how to best recruit volunteers.  Key advice includes being open and clear about expectations, skills and time commitments, and making sure potential volunteers know who to report to and/or get feedback/support from.  The RTO/ERO can provide templates for job descriptions, and it was recommended that all volunteer positions be written up clearly so everyone has a good understanding of what a position involves (and doesn’t involve).  A volunteer job can quickly expand, to the point where the volunteer gives up or burns out, unfortunately.  Also, districts should make sure there is a “shadow” person for every volunteer position, so that there can be someone ready to take up the task should the first person have to leave.  This will avoid sudden, panicky “YOU do it,” types of volunteer assignments.
Other tips include encouraging friends to volunteer to make tasks/events more social, and sharing (within privacy boundaries) the words of appreciation sent by members regarding cards and visits.