Staying true to individual interests is a great compass for finding volunteer programs for retired seniors. The most suitable volunteer opportunity is whatever adds to your passion for life or expresses your core values.
Reflect on Your Life Plan
One major complaint that many seniors have about the post-employment chapter of their lives is the challenge to redefine a sense of purpose. Retirement allows most seniors to reevaluate priorities and invest in different pursuits than before. Some seniors use retirement as an opportunity to try a new career or open a business. Still others use it as a chance to travel more frequently or spend time with family.
But a few souls view this life phase as a chance to solidify decisions with deeper meaning, "give back" to others, and, quite simply, have a reason to get up in the morning.
Identify What Matters to You
If you've not been involved in volunteer programs before, you may be wondering where to begin. Again, honing in on your special interests and abilities will make this process easy.
- Do you like to help keep things organized?
- Do you enjoy interacting with other people?
- Is there a hobby, sport, or pastime you'd like to expand on?
- Do you consider yourself to be a patient or effective instructor?
- Is being outdoors a passion for you?
- Do you like to create or build things?
- Are you looking for a way to extend your religious beliefs or teachings?
- Do you like the excitement of special events?
- Do you delight in being around children?
- Are you good at planning situations from start to finish?
- Would you like to travel to exotic locations?
- Do you want to see positive change happen in your community?
Answering just one or two of these factors may spark other ideas leading to volunteer programs for retired seniors, whether as an individual pursuit, or involving companions, families, or a network of friends.
Popular Volunteer Programs for Retired Seniors
Open any phone book, and you'll see numerous nonprofit organizations just waiting for your help. Maybe you'd like to cook, assemble, or deliver Meals on Wheels to those in need. Perhaps your extensive computer skills can be put to use teaching classes at a local senior center. If you like children, you can volunteer to rock babies in the hospital nursery or become a mentor. If you support a particular cause, such as historic preservation or a political movement, it's easy to find resources for local chapters online or at the library. You can also become a docent for your favorite museum or tourist attraction.
Community events are always in need of willing volunteers. If your city has an arts festival, winter carnival, marathon, or some other large public event, organizers will welcome your input and manpower.
VolunteerMatch is a comprehensive tool to help locate volunteer programs for retired seniors. Simply enter your zip code and an appropriate distance, and VolunteerMatch lists charities needing assistance in your area. From helping with animal rescue to working at a nonprofit's fundraising event, you're bound to find something of interest.
National Senior Service Corps
National Senior Service Corps now enters its fourth decade of linking concerned seniors with volunteer programs. The organization began with the Foster Grandparent program, and branched out to include the Senior Companion program. Another strong component of NSSC is the RSVP program, which connects seniors with particular skills to charity projects that will most benefit the community.
NSSC is found in most communities, often as an affiliate to a larger nonprofit entity.
Civic Ventures provides an outlet for seniors looking for volunteer opportunities as well as employment in the nonprofit sector. The organization's primary volunteer focus is the Experience Corps, whose members dedicate their efforts to improving literacy in America.
Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement
EASI is a joint effort between AARP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote seniors' involvement in preserving the environment. Seniors can participate in activities such as community garden development, classroom environmental education, and local, state, and national park service.
Global Volunteers is a volunteer program that is part vacation, part activism. Participants pay a fee to become involved in a variety of local and international efforts, and then spend up to three weeks in service. This is an especially good volunteer program for retired seniors looking for a group activity.
The Service Corps of Retired Executives is a valuable asset to many small business owners and budding entrepreneurs. This organization is ideal for people wanting to stay involved in the business sector.
Tell Us What You Do
People gravitate toward those with similar interests. We'd appreciate it if you shared what volunteer programs for retired seniors you've found to be personally rewarding so that others may learn of new opportunities.