By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

Several months of Covid lockdowns have wreaked havoc with our mental health. How can we get to a happier, healthier place? By volunteering in your community, of course!

That was the focus of The Gifts of Giving Project, a unique event celebrating the benefits of volunteerism, including its positive impact on mental well-being, held at ClearWater Farm in Willow Beach on December 3.

“I hear from many people that are new to the community. Also, people who have lived here for some time, but feel disconnected. I wanted to bring these people together. I also wanted to focus on the benefits of volunteering,” said Lauren Helmkay, the event’s co-organizer and a health and wellness coach.

“Today volunteers are mingling with people who might consider volunteering, so that the one can be celebrated and the other can be inspired.”  

Participants had fun conquering their ‘inner critic’ by doing Nia fitness (laughing while trying to do the duck walk), exploring intuitive art, and meditating with Carolynn Rodgers, a meditation and holistic consultant, who together with Helmkay saw a need for the project.

“Meditating together helps to regain your mental balance,” says Rodgers.

“It allows you to deep dive into yourself, detach yourself from daily worries. I am happy to introduce meditation to a broad Georgina audience.”

Co-organizers Carolynn Rodgers & Lauren Helmkay
Nia fitness
Art workshop

Tim Greenwood, who volunteers with youth programmes, says, “we need these kinds of events to re-built community after long months of isolation. It’s also always lots of fun! A bit of exercise, a bit of relaxation, but most important is to just be together, laugh together.” 

Jacinta Yang, owner of Jacinta Healing Arts, plans a series of free healing sessions and workshops, called Take Charge of your Life, in January.

She says, “I offer these events because I want to be a part of the community. I am relatively new in Georgina. My clients have said I helped them to become emotionally stronger, so now I want to bring the sessions to everyone for free.” 

The Gifts of Giving Project was made possible through a Quick Action Grant, provided by the Georgina Community Action Table and United Way GTA.

So far Georgina has the highest number of successful applications! To see what’s coming, follow the link: 



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